We have, on INKISH, several times, written about "The End of The Day with Ray," and I believe that Ray Stasieczko often has some interesting, sometimes controversial, and mostly very interesting and valid topics to discuss. In an episode from Monday, April 10th, he invited another internet celebrity, publisher, show organizer, and speaker, David Gibbons, to this not to be missed show discussing China - and what a show.
By Editor Morten B. Reitoft
David Gibbons is from Australia but is today Chinese married and lives in China. His videos are primarily about Chinese office tech companies in English, and often he visits Chinese manufacturers to discuss what they produce and what value they bring to market. His media is RT World. Monday's show became almost a clash between Titans, and it is an episode you should see as it brings some pretty exciting topics to the table.
David Gibbons kickstarts Stasieczko's American patriotism by saying that his eleven years in China have changed his perspective of China and how the West sees the Chinese government. Listening to his arguments is wishful thinking and, at worst, naive. Stasieczko raises claims that have become a narrative in the West, namely that almost every Chinese-owned company reports back to the government. Therefore we can't use products like TikTok and, in this case, Lexmark products without fearing being spied upon.
To what degree data flows back to the Chinese government is still widely discussed, and spying on nations seems to be a national sport, as also the Americans have just been taken with the hands in the cookie jar - spying on their allies. So maybe this is just a fact that governments, authorities, police, and even worse, private companies collect data to the extent that none of us understands. That should be fought, and maybe you remember at least two incidents where that freedom was challenged. One was in the US, after another shooting incident, where Apple couldn't or wouldn't unlock an iPhone, and the second was when Apple said all collecting of data using an iPhone should be on an opt-in basis. It may be that governments are the ones that will eventually protect its populations, but few global companies like Apple that will be front-runners. I don't know. But I know that Ray Staciesczko and I are on the same page regarding the fact that China isn't a democracy. That is where I, despite all the flaws, still believe in Democracy over all other types of government.
Unfortunately, more people in the world live under dictatorships than democracies.
Of course, the discussion also is about freedom of speech, Democracy, and trade balance. I don't know if it's because I am European that I can't help finding myself somehow in between the arguments, and also, occasionally, see the arguments on both sides hilarious. Stasieczko several times talks about America as being the Democracy we all look upon, and though Gibbons, before being interrupted, argues against the US weapons legislation and compare the safety of walking on the streets as China being much safer, I couldn't help but think of, that I don't believe Europeans, in general, see the American political system and society being an ideal anymore. Before globalization and the Internet, America was idealized for Europeans, and Hollywood played an enormous role in drawing that picture. And that leads me to a short conclusion that we, of course, all, regardless of our standpoints, always compare the rest of the world to where we live. I have not lived in either America or China, so I can't say anything qualified - besides, I always love coming home very much :-)
Though the discussion was almost an argument between two people, with maybe too little space for Gibbons's opinions, hearing "the other side" for a change was interesting.
We should stop trading with China if it's not a democracy. Gibbons argues that safety and people being taken out of poverty are more important, which I understand, but I disagree 100%. Gibbons also said that the main thing the Chinese government wants is trade. However, trade is politically governed with a currency not traded on market terms and a government that heavily subsidizes whatever industry they like. The government has a solid grip on society if prices and business operations aren't on market terms. I don't believe that's good when competing with free companies in the West, and I don't think it encourages anybody to think independently; and last, I don't think this leads to innovation.
Still, the fact is that it's on uneven terms. The Western economies have used/abused low labor costs, limited environmental legislation, and easy access to almost everything, so what has made China the second largest economy is and has NOT been on market terms - and that has been an advantage for both China and the rest of the world, but now this is probably seeing an end, and today Chinese middle class have demand on their own, and the West is using Chinese middle class to sell European and American goods to a financially stronger and "hungry" middle class. I saw a YouTube film that BMW sells Chinese-manufactured cars, but these are not in as high demand as the ones produced in Germany.
We - and I now mean the printing industry, continues to take advantage of low labor cost, and a shameful example is Heidelberger Druckmaschinen. The company that got German tax-payer money to save itself when things were tough is now building machines in China - regardless of the apparent threat that the technology can or will be shared with the government!
What I have learned living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world is that with wealth, the views on freedom, free speech, and what is seen as essential change, Maslow's pyramid should be rewritten.
The top of the pyramid is where you realize yourself, but if you are hungry, your priority is maybe survival, security, love, and things that ARE more important than Democracy in the short term.
The broader perspective of China's lack of respect for fundamental human rights is a vast problem. Stasieczko mentions the support for Ukraine as a huge problem, and I agree. When countries like China, Iran, and other dictatorships are not supporting the sanctions, it puts countries like India, Turkey, and many more in perspective. It makes me wonder why the f... they don't support the sanctions and do the right thing!
Gibbons said in the film that he doesn't expect China to take Taiwan with force, and this sounds more than naive compared to the statements given by Xi Ping recently. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has for centuries tooted one-state China as the only option, and with Hong Kong now part of China, I am sure many Hong Kong people often wish them back to past glory days.
So, why is all this important to you as a printer? First and foremost, Democracy and the ability to talk freely are necessary for humans to develop and learn, but our very Democracy depends on free speech. But we must ask ourselves whether to trust Chinese technology and be dependent or limit ourselves. My take is to strengthen trade within democratic countries and indeed defend the free world Stasieczko talks about - but that starts with Americans accepting that they are not the only people in the world and that they start opening up their Democracy and accept that different opinions aren't a threat but an advantage. Another thing to remember is that Democracy isn't a given; we have to nurture it, protect it, and make it relevant - and if democracies trade with dictators and scumbags that don't care about human rights, freedom of speech, and all the things that we have fought for in centuries, we should really ask ourselves if we are any better - unfortunately, the answer is, we are not better. Maybe we should leave the products we want so badly if they are not made in a democracy, and perhaps all producers in the world should look upon themselves and consider the moral dilemma all of us are part of. Hundreds of thousands of people are being killed, and environments are destroyed for an 'iPhone.' Whau!
--- Disclaimer ---
I am not a socialist, and I am not afraid of either socialism or communism. I am a human being, a liberal thinker, and a firm believer in a healthy capitalistic democracy with high moral values. I do understand why some people turn toward socialism (and no, socialism in itself is not suppressing - many democratic socialistic countries in the world are democratically founded and work with a mix of state and private, and in a genuine democracy, people should have the right to vote for all types of governments, as long as this government allows free elections, freedom of speech, and the right to leave the country and support the international society. We don't need to fear ideologies, but with words always argue in favor of our beliefs. That's what Democracy is all about! As Churchill said, Democracy is the least bad of all governments, and true Democracy is measured by how the political minority is secured. In a democracy, we do have the right to have different opinions. Pluralism is what drives humanity forward!