On the contrary, I think that it's almost impossible to observe your own culture without input from someone else's. I've lived in Taiwan for ten years, and it's only the experiences I've had here that have thrown into sharp relief the problems with my own culture, sometimes by observing or listening to alternatives, and sometimes by watching 'western' techniques warped and misapplied.
You're quite right. But this is not an either-or. America was built around the technologies and ideas that existed a hundred years ago; now it's stuck with them. China had the benefit of hindsight, and yet decided to ignore all of it.
This is an interesting article, but it is misleading to take one person's miserable views and extrapolate from those.
I knew a Western girl who became a doctor because she was mad about horse racing and wanted a high income career that would allow her to buy a race horse.
Now would it be useful to use this doctor's career as an example of all female doctors? Not at all. Most of the other doctors I know got into the profession because of their interest in helping people.
These small stories are interesting but do not really tell us about the industry.
They do not reveal the big picture unless you get many of them and link them together.
Almost exactly the same could be said of the USA and other western countries too.
There is absolutely no reason why any Americans could not give up their city lives and go live on a quarter acre farm in a one-room hut and turn their backs on the problems of city life while wondering where the next meal will come from.
Living the agricultural life of a small farmer is not champagne and roses. It is no wonder that Chinese, just like Americans, are drawn to more material lives. They too would like to own a car, have vacations and get good education for their children.
America was once rich too, but have also made the voluntary decision to go into such debt that the world owns them.
50k a year is not a bad option (at least here in Ireland). What is most important for me is that it is sustainable (for me it is - even if I have go to another country). The director of the elderly house can loose his job as well and then what? Will he get another one for 210k?
Engineering jobs are somewhat "boring" and "non-posh" for general public but they do pay bills and give satisfaction. And the paycheck is way bigger than for supermarket job.
It is generally problematic to look at a culture/society through the eyes/values of another culture/society.
Jack's comments on "Foxconn conditions" are uncalled for. Sure, Westerners might think they are horrific, but those are great conditions in China. As for the much-lambasted Foxconn suicides... the rates are lower than the Chinese population in general.
It isn't just the Chinese that pressurize their children into careers they don't like. My Western parents tried to force me into medicine but I refused. A Western friend was given no choice in becoming a farmer to continue running the family farm. He always wishes he had done something else and puts absolutely no pressure on his children.
Westerners seem to forget that having choice is a huge luxury.
In the 1930s, when USA was digging itself out of poverty and rebuilding itself, things were not much different. There were worker dormitories. People did what they could and few had any choices.
Thank you for the informative (albeit somewhat sad) story.
On the matter of perceived low quality of Chinese products, there are some forces that push Chinese products into low quality. Much of Chinese production focuses on lowering costs. With such a focus it is easy to justify reductions in quality that do not seem likely to proportionately impact perceived value. In addition, I receive the impression that China is struggling with cultural issues of lying and bribery, which seem to be more common in poorer and less free cultures (not just countries, companies can also encourage lying and bribery by lower pay and less freedom [enfranchisement--having a say--might be included in freedom]). Quality control is more difficult in a culture in which honesty does not seem to be the best policy.
Thanks for your great response here, it gives us some insight. Our kids don't want to go into EE. Too hard to do the job of 10 years of college & university. They see the director of our elder home: He brings home a EUR 210000.- a year (no joke ! ) and then our kids ask us: Why do a EUR 50000,- a year job? There is a kind of clan in our society who are protecting each others in their jobs and their successes. They are directors of banks and other large institutions, high up managers and such. I think they brought our society to the edge of destruction. I am not at all a left wing person, but this greed brought us all where we are now. Only for THAT reason China will win. My 1 person small engineering company cannot do anything about that...
When I was young, fresh EE I worked for a US medical device company that contracted with a manufacturer in Shenzhen and Panyu China. I spent a LOT of time in both those places 1994-1998. Based on my observations, I predicted that China GDP would surpass our own by 2020. (Current predictions put it at 2016... amazing actually). I guessed this based on my experiences with the young Chinese engineers I worked with. Many, like M, were doing jobs they voluntarily transitioned into - not related to their degrees. One guy - nicked name "Fish Head" because he would eat everything on the fish, including the head! - was trained as a mechanical engineer. His first job out of college? Hammering fenders in a car factory! He had bigger dreams and taught himself computer programming at night. He then got permission to move to Shenzhen, where talked his way into an electronics company. The Chinese are hungry to join the rest of the world and are willing to work their tails off to get there. I don't see this same zeal in the US any more.
Although I'm not sure if everyone is cut out to be a rice farmer, that's very true. M believes this:
“You must understand that China is still poor. We must first earn money to support our family.”
Because she has been told that it's true. But it isn't true at all. There is NO reason why China had to follow the same path of industrialisation that we did, with all its attendant problems. They simply lacked the imagination or the talent to do anything different - sadly, because anyone capable of thinking had been killed, imprisoned, beaten-down, or ostracized. China was rich, and they made a voluntary decision to become the vassals of the world.