I thought the following exchanges from Black Phoenix and United Chinese Diaspora in a recent thread were very insightful and thought would put that as a post.
Is guanxi really an exotic leftover from an old decadent tradition – as many people, including I, blindingly believed? Or is it ever-present among us … in “modernity”?
From Black Phoenix:
I am reminded of a common story among many Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants.
1 of my friends has a PhD, worked for high tech companies for more than decades, but still not able to advance, keep getting downsized.
He said to me once, he couldn’t understand why. He worked very hard, but others get promoted.
I asked him, why he didn’t go to China to work.
He said, he remembered all the corruption of “guanxi” in Chinese companies. He said he wouldn’t like it there. That was part of the reason why he left.
I said, why does he think that he could do better in US?
He said, in the US, people can succeed without all the corrupt “Guanxi”.
I said, that’s his mistake in assumption. In US, there is “guanxi”, which is called “networking”.
He said, “networking” is not “guanxi”.
I said, who made you believe that?
that’s the problem. Many Chinese believed that they escaped China’s corruption of “guanxi”, when in reality, they were thrown into another system of relationships and networking that they couldn’t master.
They believed that if they just worked hard, they would be recognized and be rewarded.
But it is the same in US, just different networks.
I also seen too many Expats in China complain that they couldn’t stand “guanxi”.
Yet, many of them also left the West, because they couldn’t stand the “networking” in the West.
It’s the same game, that some people simply couldn’t succeed in.
There is no exceptions, Same game, different nations.
I believe, too many of us have been misled / brainwashed into believing in the system in the West.
That we believe that it’s a fair(er) game than in China.
No. I have seen enough to realize that it’s the same corrupt game. I live in DC. It’s never a fair game.
Let’s not live under the delusion any more.
Face reality: We have to kissass, we have to lick boots. If we don’t do in China, we have to do in the West. That’s how you climb up. Doesn’t matter where.
Self-proclaimed honor means very little. Even if you save your honor, you are still someone’s slave.
From United Chinese Diaspora:
Your comparison between quanxi and networking is perceptive and true.
Reminds me of a story where a white man went to visit his wife at the cemetery and he saw a Chinese man putting some food in front of the Chinese man’s wife’s tombstone and the white man asked the Chinese man if he thought his wife would come up and eat the food in which the Chinese man replied by asking if the white man would think that his wife would come up and smell the flowers that he brought her.
White people will always think their shit smell better than everybody else’s.