Sunday, 9 October 2016

Good enough for China

From aeon comes an interesting piece on what in China is referred to as chabuduo - close enough.

Chabuduo implies that to put any more time or effort into a piece of work would be the act of a fool. China is the land of the cut corner, of ‘good enough for government work’.

In our apartment in central Beijing, we fight a daily rearguard action against entropy. The mirror on my wardrobe came off its hinges six months ago and is now propped up against the wall, one of many furnishing casualties. Each of our light fittings takes a different bulb, and a quarter of them are permanently broken. In the bedroom, the ceiling-high air-conditioning unit runs its moisture through a hole knocked in the wall, stuffed with an old cloth to avoid leakage, while the balcony door, its sealant rotted, has a towel handy to block the rain when it pours through. On the steps outside our door, I duck my head every day to avoid the thick tangle of hanging wires that brings power and the internet; when the wind is up, connections slow as cables swing.

The apartment is five years old. By Chinese standards, it’s far better than the average.

Read the whole thing - it is a fascinating alternative slant on China as a global industrial powerhouse. It may be an industrial powerhouse, but perhaps there are growing pains too. Severe ones if this piece is any guide.

‘There’s a Tianjin-level explosion every month,’ a staff member at a national-level work-safety programme told me, asking for anonymity. ‘But mostly they happen in places that nobody cares about.’ Careless disasters are buried all the time; when a chemical plant exploded in Tangshan in March 2014, a friend there told me of the management’s relief after the Malaysia Airlines flight 370 went missing the next day, swallowing up all other news and making sure nobody but them noticed, save for 13 widows.


Demetrius said...

This also explains why I have avoided eating in Chinese Restaurants.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - we've avoided them for years.

Anonymous said...

OK, so China has its problems - so what. A very similar news report could have been made on the UK or the USA during the industrial growth period in the C19th. Boilers bursting, flywheels shattering, railway engines out of control, lousy housing conditions.

Now we don't have these simple disasters but we don't have the growth either and no housing. Omelettes and eggs,, be careful what you laugh at.

A K Haart said...

Roger - it may be journalist's anecdotes or a wider malaise where China is building something which can't be maintained by future generations. Would the government know either way? That seems to be the underlying message of the article - governments agencies don't want to know because with knowledge comes responsibility.