Dissertation research questions

Hello to all Chinese people out there.  I was wondering if you could help me. I am researching for my dissertation and I need some help gathering the most up to date information about China’s medical system. I have written four fairly straightforward questions that I am hoping you will be able to answer, as I do not know many Chinese people in Scotland.

Question 1: What do you think of Chinese Medicine today?

Question 2: How heavily influenced do you think Chinese medicine is over western medicine and how easily influenced do yuo think Western medicine is over Chinese medicine?

Question 3: How good/or bad is the treatment of mentally ill people in China?

Question 4: How successful has herbal medicine become in China and how successful do you think it has become in the west?

If you could reply with your comments, I would greatly appreciate it.

Kind regards

Lindsay Osborne

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China’s change in attitude towards business over generations.

It has recently come to my attention that the characteristics of a Chinese businessman has changed drastically over the past few generations. This is in large due to the fact that the Chinese working economy is on a vast upward spiral to becoming one of the most plentiful in the world. In turn, there must follow a new strict set of regimented rules and regulations in order to deal with the increasing demand for products ‘made in China’. We tend to find that nowadays the new chinese businessman is more individualistic and more likely to act independently, while taking risks in the pursuit of profits. However, these new businessmen are likewise, not disregarding their Confucian values (the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor especially including self-cultivation and self-creation). Thus, they may be seen as combining their Eastern and Western influences, while on the road to modernisation.

Even though China’s global marketplace is growing rapidly. It is important that we outline the profile of a new Chinese businessmen today, so we can access the improvements made over the past few generations. In order to develop this profile, we need to:

“focus on the individualism, collectivism and confucianism aspects of Chinese values.” (Boisot &Child, 1996)

The importance of these three aspects of Chinese societal values, as well as being the signal of the paradox that occurs when the shift to modernisation conflicts with maintaining traditional Chinese values, has been pointed out by, Bond 1991; Ralston, Yu, Wang, Terpstra & He, 1996; Redding, 1990 and Yang 1988). Age, or indeed generation is definitely the predicting independent variable. However, after years of research into China’s history, we can determine a number of other different factors that may also affect individual values in China, such as; gender, education, geographic region or origin, position level, company size, industry and geographic region on employment. (Child & Stewart, 1997; James 1989). Subsequently, we must include these factors as possible control variables in the research findings and analysis of generationsal changes in Chinese business values.

Moreover, as the relationship between the United Kingdom and China grows. It has become imperative for the Western business people, who look to develop their working relationships with Chinese counterparts, to understand the key factors highlighted earlier, gender, education etc. This in turn will help us strengthen our economy whilst aiding China on its journey to economic success. I order to fully understand how business takes place in China. One needs to learn about culture differences within each generation (Schneider & Barsoux, 1997). Thus, we have to value the differences between these generations, the most important, being the societal objectives (Inglehart & Carballa, 1997; Terpstra, 1978). There is no country in the world that has had to adapt their societal chnages as much as China since the Qing Dynasty. Many of these changes were made in such a way that they can easily be tweaked in order to fit the beliefs and attitudes of people at the time.

Furthermore, Confucianism was rife during the Republican Era (1911-1948), and western influence was high in commercial areas such as Shanghai. When the consolidation Era came around in 1949 to 1965, this influence was rapidly evaporated due to the violent nature aimed towards educated citizens. This was an attempt by Maoist/Leninist communist doctrine to suppress all of China’s Confucian values. During this period, everything western was disintegrated. The following Great Cultural Revolution Era of 1966-1976 only exacerbated the situation that arose during the Communist Consolidation. The era that China finds itself in today (the social reform era 1977- present), initiated by Deng Xiaoping, saw a great rise in the acceptance of the traditional Confucian values that are an integral part of China’s demeanor and well-being. In the past few years, China has managed to rebuild its bridges within the west:

“‘The essence of the evolution from the previous two periods under Mao’s work for the good society’ philosophy can be captured by Deng’s (1984 p172) acknowledgment that a ‘few flies’ ( i.e western influence) would likely come through the open door, in the new and pragmatic, “to be rich is glorious” plan to modernize China by the early twenty-first century.”

In short, work hard and earn lots of money so that you can live an affluent life with less worry. This school of though has only surfaced in recent years because the opportunity to become successful in business in China has widened. However, I have to wonder, if this glorified version of a modernised life in China is too great to be true. China has gained enormous economic success , but will they be able to sustain this rate of success in the years to come? This is the underlying worry. How long can such great success exist? Well for now China can only go on to do greater things, and with the UK on it’s side, it will be very interesting to see where they are in the next twenty odd years. It is certainly food for thought.

Made in China with Gok Wan

I have recently just finished watching a documentary about the half Chinese, half British fashion design guru Gok Wan and his trip back to China to uncover his roots and understand a little more about a culture that is rapidly becoming one of the biggest economies in the world. Firstly, when Gok was talking to his father about the morals and values of Chinese people. I found it quite interesting to hear that the first thing on a Chinese mind is money. I suppose, working long hours, sacrificing yourself to your company and all that that entails is proof of this. There work ethic is undeniable, however, it does unfortunately come at the cost of loosing your free speech. When Gok tried to arrange a private meeting with three sisters that worked in the factory, he was soon joined by half of the company owners and bosses. If that’s not a statement about the fact that you are not allowed to express yourself, I don’t know what is.

Of course, life in China is worlds apart from that of the life one leads in Britain. Although, more recently it seems that China is desperate to adopt the British way of life, now more than ever.  For example, they seem to have sprung up little temporary villages with no living habitants purely for photographical reasons, mainly for wedding photos. It is a very strange and surreal atmosphere, and as Gok expressed: we, as British people should feel comfortable in these familiar surroundings. However, it is actually very alienating.

Moreover, another value or ritual if you like that I found very interesting was the burning of materialistic objects made out of paper to support ones ancestors in the after life. For instance, Gok’s father asked him to go to a shop that made these strange paper objects, such as, money, clothes, electrical items, anything you can think of really and take them to his family home in China to burn. Doing this would in turn give Gok’s ancestors wealth, peace of mind, happiness and joy in the afterlife. It was like they were living the afterlife exactly how they lived this life, with all of there treasured possessions. This was very unusual for me and quite difficult to get my head around, because in my religion (christianity) we are taught that it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are. Whatever you leave this life with, you will not be able to take with you into the kingdom of heaven. God accepts everyone of his children, no matter their net worth. However, it is very eye opening to learn and be introduced to other peoples beliefs and I have the greatest respect for the way they celebrate their ancestors lives.  It was quite moving. I wish people in this country would respect their elders more. Respect is definitely something that is lacking in this country.

Assignment 3: Counterfeit Chinese Goods

Recently, there has been a report from the BBC news on the growth of fake goods from China:

“An EU report says 64% of fake or pirated goods seized in the 27-nation bloc last year came from China- a 10% increase from 2008”  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world- europe- 10726125, 22nd July 2010).”

Clothing was the largest, with 27% seized, while illegal CDs, DVDs and electrical products showed a marked decline.

Furthermore, China seems to becoming a ‘copycat’ nation. China’s car manufacturer Shuanghuan is already selling cars that look incredibly like the BMW X5 SVU and the mercedes smart in China.  A Shuanghuan spokesperson says they don’t plan to show the cars in Frankfurt- contrary to reports going around in Germany (they were presented at the Shuanghuan motor show last year).  But China Automobile, a German importer, says it will show the cars in Frankfurt. ‘Anything can happen’ says one Mercedes official. There has been some debate on whether or not copying a car is legal. However, BMW and Mercedes have decided to persue with legal action.

Subsequently, this poses the question: is China a pure copycatter or a copycat innovator? In China, they don’t just copy individual products. They copy individual stores. They also have replicas of small British and Australian towns built in some areas. It is like they are desperate not to have their own individuality. In an article I read recently, the reporter expressed:

“We must not loose sight of the fact that businesses in China are also brilliant Copy Cat Innovators, which is a legitimate whole new ball-game altogether.  Interestingly, a new term has come about that actually defines this relatively new phenomena. It has been refered to as “Chinnovation”. Chinnovation (coined from China and innovation) means applying changes in technology and business strategy to develop new and better ways to create value for both the customer and the corporation.  Although this term can be applied in any market, there are eight unique characteristics distinct to China- the 8 R’s of Chinnovation- that summarise the most common traits of Chinese innovators, successful innovators usually demonstrate a combination or several R’s:  Revenue focus, Rapid movement, Requirements driven by customers, Reproduction of existing models and products, Rivals require innovation, Restrictions inspire innovation, Remix, Remix, Remix, and finally Raw materials and tangible and intangible.  There is even a book out there well worth reading called  “Chinnovation: How Chinese Innovators are changing the world.” In this book, you uncover how there is a rise in Chinese innovators and how they are paving the way in new innovative ways of thinking. The author, Another Yinglan Tan has documented this. He got rid of the myth that Chinese businesses are being ‘copycats’ and has produced examples of how they are crossing barriers to successful and profitable innovation.  In addition, some of his topics discussed include how Neil Shen, co-founder of CTRIP Capital China, see the opportunity for a Chinese travel site. Also, how Ray Zhang, CEO of Ehi scaled up one of the most innovative hybrid car-rental companies in China.  Plus, how Zhang Tao, CEO of Dianping inspired a site for restaurants and establish a continuous process of innovation.

Moreover, another prime example of “Chinnovation” is white electrical goods manufacturer,  Haier has copycat innovated on the washing machine to include features on washing vegetables to cater to the China market.  It is another Yinglan Tan’s opinion that it is unjust to categorise China as a counterfeit nation. He points out that if you look into the worlds technology, the US copied from the industrial Revolution in Europe and Japan copied from the advanced western countries. It was during this time that these two countries celebrated their highest turnover.

I created a survey asking people various questions relating to China’s products and China’s innovation. The main question was: What do you think of products made in China? The most common replies were: cheaply made, poorly made, electrical goods not working, fake, unreliable. These answers then made me review China as a business market. This is where I discovered that the growth of their business and entrepreneurial market is due to the knowledge Chinese entrepreneurs have of the domestic market, vast change to market changes and resourcefulness, but what are these secrets and how well do they uncover them?  Chinnovation marks the humble beginnings of entrepreneurial innovation and the back stories of some now well-established consumer goods firms from Mao’s cultural Revolution through to self made internet era to the middle kingdoms rapid growth.

Other research methods I found useful while exploring this topic were; a swot analysis (the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the Made in China products market.) Also, a perceptual map of the quality of Chinese goods compared to those of other countries. Finally, I made up a few personas of people that would be most likely buy goods  that were made in China that didn’t know they were made there in the first place.

What are your opinions of Chinese manufacturing?

The process of making Chinese rice bowls.

Myself and a group of my peers enjoyed a workshop where we learned how to mould, glaze and decorate Chinese rice bowls. I think it’s safe to say that we all had great fun making them.

Firstly to make the porcelain the Chinese combined kaolin, feldspar and sand to make the body. Then the mixture was heated in a kiln to very high temperatures around 2,000F. This would cause the materials to react to form a glass phase that gives porcelain its strength and translucency.

The type of dishes we made were of the red and blue variation, also more commonly known as the blue and white style porcelain.  The Chinese describe the raw materials that make up their porcelain as; blood, flesh and bone. After the raw materials are selected and the desired amounts weighed, they go through a series of preparation steps. First, they are crushed and purified. Next, they are mixed together before being subjected to one of four forming processes—soft plastic forming, stiff plastic forming, pressing, or casting; the choice depends upon the type of ware being produced. After the porcelain has been formed, it is subjected to a final purification process, bisque-firing, before being glazed. Glaze is a layer of decorative glass applied to and fired onto a ceramic body. The final manufacturing phase is firing, a heating step that takes place in a type of oven called a kiln.

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Chinese Fairy Tales

A topic I thought would be interesting to review, with relation to China’s innovativeness is: Chinese fairy tales and how their style of writing and illustration differs from that of the fairy tales in the western world. I firstly discovered Chinese fairy tales when I was asked to illustrate one of a number of fairy tales for a client. The one I chose was called “The Tearful Gaze”  If you are interested in hearing the story, you can just type “The Tearful Gaze” into google and it should be the first link. Below are some examples of etchings and an embossing I made to illustrate key scenes from the story.

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The writings of stories such as these first began in the Wei and Jin Dynasties.  Buddhist superstitions were the inspiration behind the invention of stories of ghosts and Gods. Some of them show a fascination the Chinese had for the human language. Fairy tales were later on continued in the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Chinese fairy tales are certainly not short anecdote like stories. They are structurally well thought out with vivid characters and interesting plots.

Following my earlier research of the subject I discovered just how beautifully illustrated some of these wonderful stories are. It was then my challenge to produce a series of good illustrations in an appropriate media. In the end I chose etching, as it is a very beautiful old technique that produces the line I needed to fully express the emotion of the tale.

What I like the most about Chinese fairy tales is their ability to take your imagination to places it has never been. With British fairy tales the stories are always very similar. The Prince goes on a quest to save the damsel in distress and usually they end up happily ever after.

Subsequently, another form of Chinese storytelling I find Intriguing and worth discussing is, Chinese folktales. Post being recorded in writing, many folktales were so well known that they became proverbs (popular short sayings with teaching values). Some of these proverbs are extremely short stories with just the title and a few words, easy to recite and remember. In school, children are taught to remember them and recite them back to their teacher. Everyone in China knows these stories well, that you find they will often quote them in their writing and/or conversations. How did folktales take form?

“In ancient China, common folk did not understand science, such as the workings of nature and the causes of disasters or weather changes. Thus, it became natural for them to imagine causes for everything that affected their lives. So they made up stories, expressing their frustrations and hoping their lives would be better.”

The stories all portrayed a positive message whether they were about morals, spirits and ghosts with mortals, or combined history and mythology, it really doesn’t matter. They were all written to teach China’s important values and beliefs.

The most common theme of Chinese folktales is ‘Filial piety’, which means that it is the duty of the children to respect and obey their parents, and to take care of their parents when they grow old. This is not the theme of my illustrated fairy tale. However, it is a vital part of Chinese society. My fairy tale conveyed the importance of loving someone for who they are. Not just from their outside appearance. Other common teaching themes include; loyalty, justice, morality and conscience. I would suggest that you find a Chinese fairy tale that you like, see what category it comes under and learn from the message in the tale.

Due to the fact that folk tales have been written over a number of centuries, they reflect different times and different areas of the lives of the Chinese. Thus, they have much historical value. They are entertaining and educational. That is why they have survived for so many years and have such an important role in Chinese culture.