Confucianism and Trade Imbalances

The enlightened dictatorship of money

China’s four inventions

with one comment

China invented four things that changed the world: paper, gunpowder, printing, and the compass.   The next sentence you usually hear your tour guide say is that they were then forced to modernize when the Japanese used gunpowder, China’s own invention, against them during the colonial period, because they were better at applying the technology.  But what about the other technologies?

Look at paper.  You are expected to carry your own napkins in when you go to a restaurant.  Many Beijing restaurants will now provide napkins for every table, but traditionally this would not be the case.  But some restaurants are going even further and forcing people to pay a small fee for napkins.

Public toilets are the same way.  You really need to carry around a little man-purse, as I see some people do, if you want to be perfectly safe.

Then there is the issue of maps.  You really need to carry your own if you don’t know where you’re going.  Taxi drivers won’t have them.  That may be an economic issue, but it’s also the same in subway stations.  For some transfer stations (I’m thinking of Xizhimen; there may be others) you will need to go from the entrance all the way to the other end of the platform to figure out in what direction you need to be headed.    Then, to make the issue more confusing, they will sometimes alter the compass heading, so that north isn’t always up (or even horizontal or vertical.)  Maybe this has something to do with compasses as well?

In every example I can think of for paper, China is inferior to the US.  The only exception I can think of, ironically, is also easily explained by tradition.  PDF file formats have never taken off here, in my experience, but I don’t think it’s because people prefer paper documents, as much as that they just don’t read long documents in any form.

Is this a real pattern?  If so, what can be concluded?  That China’s cultural identity comes from deprivation, or something?

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Written by Maofucious

July 15, 2012 at 12:08 AM

Posted in Confucianism

One Response

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  1. The issue of changing or confusing map orientations is not limited to BJ. I was recently in Buenos Aries, where I found maps with several different orientations [not specified], which made it very difficult to figure out which direction was up, so to speak.

    S. Barnartt

    August 12, 2012 at 1:10 AM


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