Sino the Times

Has the Ugly American been supplanted by his Chinese counterpart?  In the upcoming issue, California looks at the growing resentment in the developing world over Chinese business ventures abroad.

It wasn’t so long ago that Chinese engineers and economists were welcomed with enthusiasm by struggling Asian, African and South American nations. The Chinese were seen as both technically proficient and simpatico. They didn’t have to tote the baggage of – well, Americans, who were often viewed as overweening, grasping and arrogant.

But that was then. Today, derogatory comments are just as often appended to the Chinese abroad as they are to sojourning westerners. Violence against Chinese businesspeople – including kidnappings and killings — is rising. And government officials, who were once only too happy to court Chinese investment, are cracking down on free-wheeling Han entrepreneurs.

Just this week Ghana detained 124 Chinese nationals and charged them with illegal gold-mining. China lodged a formal complaint with the West African nation over the arrests. 

As China prospers, resentment will inevitably grow, say our sources. Many sinologists maintain that China is interested in securing resources and cultivating prestige, not world domination. But while their intent may not be imperialist, there is little doubt they are coming across as imperious in many locales. Like those who have preceded them in the global arena, the Chinese may well find that they get more flies – and oil, timber and minerals – with honey than vinegar.   

Look for “Outsourcing the Middle Kingdom” in the Summer issue of California, due to hit mailboxes the third week of June.

—Glen Martin

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