China 63 years on… they’re in Melbourne now


Officially, the communist party of China has been in power for 63 years. Today is the anniversary of the declaration of the People’s Republic of China under communist rule. It happened back in 1949, on 1 October.

I stumbled on a book, many years ago, written by Mao’s personal doctor (a Doctor Li). He told of the decadent mindlessness in Mao’s personal life, against a backdrop of disastrous rule which included peasant idiocies like producing backyard steel industries in that catastrophic great “leap forward” which was in fact a descent into the abyss for millions of Chinese.

That book fired up my interest in Mao and his circle and I read many other books on China after that, covering the lives of a number of people including Chao Enlai, Jiang Qing and of course, Deng Xiaoping. Collectively, they create the impression that China continues (or continued) to be ruled by emperors, starting with Mao, then Jiang Qing, followed by Deng. Chao was crucial in ensuring that in the unbelievable operatic world between the latter half of Mao’s rule and the early days of Jiang’s wrecking paranoia, some semblance of order and good government, at least to the outside world, held true.

Since Deng’s ascension China has been focused on what it does very well – making money. So the country has gotten past its tragic past on the back of the “red back” that is the RMB. In spite of its age, this 63 year old ogre continues to ring the till for many so it continues to be tolerated.

I’m not sure though about the depth of sentiments on the part of the Sino nouveau riche as we continue to see Chinese migrants flooding into Melbourne. Leaving aside their attitude towards money, I feel I can deal with the new demographics, generally, except they tend to wreck sections of the local eateries. Needing businesses to run in support of their migrant visa requirements, we see establishments changing hands in large numbers, with new ubiquitous Chinese owners behind the cash registers. Most of these places end up serving atrocious food because the new owners haven’t got a clue how to run their shops. Often the money pinching tendencies see really shonky quality stuff being dished out.

One gets the clear impression that the new owners cared little for the product or service they were delivering, and were concerned only with preserving their investments while satisfying their visa conditions. They probably don’t know what it takes to create value for their acquisitions.

This short term outlook to their investments is really quite consistent with expert opinion of what is plaguing Chinese businesses. All they care about is making the next buck easily and quickly, perish the thought of building something or creating long term value. What sustainability?

Unfortunately, the communist regime in China lasted 63 years not through a belief in creating a lasting community, but through brute power and force of coercion. Take this away in the environment of paper thin margin of a lot of the businesses being bought up by the migrants and I’m afraid we are looking at the very distinct possibility of messy outcomes and for us who live and make our homes here, wrecked communities. I hope the 63 year old ogre would see middle aged Chinese come here to retire and spend their dollars as consumers, not as investors who buy up local businesses only to ruin them.

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