Notes on Intercultural Communication

Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Genetics, Cultures and Body Odor

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Body Odor / ABCC11


There are two kinds of sweat glands: eccrine sweat glands, which are found throughout the skin, and apocrine sweat glands, which are found in the armpits and groin. Eccrine sweat glands produce sweat that is mostly water and salt, and it does not contribute very much to body odor. Apocrine sweat contains proteins and lipids; when bacteria on the skin metabolize apocrine sweat, they produce body odor. The earwax glands (ceruminous glands) are a form of apocrine gland. (…) Some people have earwax that is wet, sticky and yellow or brown; other people’s earwax is dry, crumbly and grayish. Variation at a single gene determines which kind of earwax you have; the allele for wet earwax is dominant over the allele for dry earwax. The allele for dry earwax appears to have originated by mutation in northeastern Asia about 2,000 generations ago, then spread outwards because it was favored by natural selection. It is very common in eastern Asia, becomes much less common towards Europe, and is rare in Africa. Earwax type is not used very often to illustrate basic genetics, but unlike most human characters that are used (tongue rolling, attached earlobes, etc.), it really is controlled by a single gene with two alleles. . (…)


Read full text online here or download pdf there

(retrieved 20.01.2013 at


Apocrine Gland Secretion and Body Odor

(…) Martin et al. (2010) performed chemical analysis of axillary sweat samples from 25 individuals with different ABCC11 538G-A genotypes, including 18 Asian participants (11 AA homozygotes, 5 AG heterozygotes, and 2 GG homozygotes) and 7 Caucasian participants (2 AG heterozygotes and 5 GG homozygotes). Levels of 3 glutamine conjugates that are precursors for key body odorants were below detection limits in all participants with the AA genotype but were present in all AG and GG individuals, indicating that ABCC11 is essential for secretion of amino-acid conjugates of relevant axillary odors.


Mapping of Apocrine Gland Secretion

By a functional assay, Yoshiura et al. (2006) determined that cells with allele A showed a lower excretory activity for cGMP than those with allele G. The allele A frequency showed a north-south and east-west downward geographic gradient; worldwide, it was highest in Chinese and Koreans, and a common dry-type haplotype was retained among various ethnic populations. These results suggested that the allele A arose in northeast Asia and thereafter spread through the world. The 538G-A SNP was the first example of DNA polymorphism determining a visible genetic trait.(…)

Read the full text online here or download pdf there.

(both retrieved 21.02.2015 at


World Overview ABCC11

site an frequency of allels A27 of ABCC11 among different ethnic populations

Read the document online here or download full pdf there.

(retrieved 20.01.2013 at–tL)


Additional Material

Human Olfactory Communication


Nonhuman animals communicate their emotional states through changes in body odor. The study reported here suggests that this may be the same for humans. (…) The finding suggests that there is information in human body odors indicative of emotional state. This finding introduces new complexity in how humans perceive and interact. (…)

Human Olfactory Communication of Emotion by Chen D. and Haviland-Jones J.

(retrieved 21.05.2015 at


Read the full research as pdf online here or here.

(retrieved 21.05.2015 at,d.bGg)


(Posted 21.05.2015)

Trade, Geography, and the Unifying Force of Islam / The Silk Road

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Trade, Geography, and the Unifying Force of Islam


Inequality in regional suitability for agriculture across the Old World

Inequality in regional suitability for agriculture across the Old World


Percentage of Muslim population in AD 1900 in the Old World

Percentage of Muslim population in AD 1900 in the Old World


Major trade routes in the Old World AD 600-AD 1800

Major trade routes in the Old World AD 600-AD 1800


(…) We start with the observation that, on the one hand, Islam surfaced in the Arabian Peninsula under conditions featuring an extremely unequal land quality distribution across regions. And, on the other hand, Islam surfaced in areas close to lucrative trade routes. As a result, when dwellers from the oases were attempting to cross the surrounding vast arid lands in pursuit of trade profits, they were facing threats to their livelihoods from nomadic groups. These encounters had the potential to bring trade flows to a halt, setting the stage for the emergence of a centralising force that featured redistributive rules. We argue that Islam was such a centralising force and that, accordingly, its economic tenets had to address inherent economic inequities across clans. This resulted in an economic doctrine that promoted poverty alleviation and redistribution, equitable inheritance rules and anti-usury laws.


Fortunately, among the pre-colonial traits recorded by Murdock (1967) there is an entry describing whether a group believes or not in gods that are supportive.. of human morality. Anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have argued that the belief in moralising gods – gods who tell people what they should or should not do – was necessary to keep societies together by condemning infringements on other group members. Similarly, we  argue that the presence of an unequal geography and proximity to trade opportunities intensified the need for cooperation among heterogeneous clans. Such cooperation could be achieved by adopting a religion which, besides the appropriate economic rules, would provide a coordination mechanism that penalised those who deviate from prescribed norms. With this in mind, it is not surprising to find that a 50% increase in Muslim adherence within a group increases the likelihood that a group believes in gods that dictate what should or should not be done by 40%. If anything, Christian and ethnoreligious groups are less likely to have harboured beliefs in a moralising god in the pre-colonial period.



Our findings show that Islam flourished in very challenging geographical terrains. These terrains harboured inherently unequal economic opportunities and bred conflict. Any political platform that attempted to bring clashing populations together had to address these primordial inequities. Islam was certainly such a movement, and its spread is a prime example of how geography shapes a society’s institutional and societal arrangements. (…)

8 December 2012

Stelios Michalopoulos
Assistant Professor of Economics, Brown University

Alireza Naghavi
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Bologna

Giovanni Prarolo
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Bologna


Read the full post online at VOX, download  pdf at Brown University here, or as pdf here.

(retrieved 19.04.2014 at


Ann. of the Editor: I personally do not agree to the conclusions. Trade is based on trust. The Quran (similar to the Bible) has the character of a constitution. Moral norms as “Not Lie, Not Steal” are crucial until today’s  international trade. “Being balanced against a feather” is a keyword in Muslim morals. International institutionalised morals can appear as international law (see INCO-Terms).


The Silk Road and Related Trade Routes

Map of  the Silk Road and Related Trade Routes

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at


The Islamic World

Map of the Islamic World

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at


Trade Routes Africa  15th century

Map of Trade Routes in  Africa  around 1500

“History of Africa”  27 February 2008. <>  20 April 2014. (retireved 20.04.2014 at

See the whole article about Africa around 1500 online here or download as pdf here.


Additional Material


Southeast_Asia_trade_route_map_XII century

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at


(…) Perhaps no one has described in more ringing language than Tome Pires the advantages of a port commanding the straits :

Whoever is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice. As far as from Malacca, and from Malacca to China, and from China to the Moluccas, and from Moluccas to Java, and from Java to Malacca and Sumatra, all is in your power. (…)

Read the full article about Ancient Asian Trade online here or download pdf here.

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at


Can a Chinese ‘maritime silk route’ cool tensions in Asia?

Many, both in China and in the region, view China’s mooted Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with the ASEAN+6 countries as a Chinese effort to push the regional agenda towards softer objectives. For Beijing, RCEP also has the benefit of countering the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership.

Yet the benefit for China of achieving either of these objectives would pale in comparison to the potential benefit of President Xi Jinping’s realising his dream of reviving the ‘maritime silk route’, which he unveiled during his October 2013 visit to Malaysia and Indonesia. The route would build on the East Asia region’s proven strengths in sharing production. It could also enable a greater role for overseas Chinese communities in forging relationships to reduce regional tensions.

The movement of goods along the maritime silk route has a history of over two millennia, which reached its peak in the 15th century when legendary explorer Zheng He led an armada from China through Southeast and South Asia to the Persian Gulf. Today some of these same corridors support East Asia’s unique production sharing network which brings components produced throughout the region to China for assemblage and shipment to Europe and North America.

The production network allows all countries, regardless of their size and technological sophistication, to benefit from deep specialisation and economies of scale by producing parts and components, and adding value to production along the production chain. With labour costs in China now rising, many ASEAN economies stand to gain from any future outsourcing of production. This, combined with the trade deficits that China runs with most of its Asian neighbours (in contrast to its persistent surpluses with the West), makes it easier for ASEAN countries to see China as an opportunity rather than a threat. (…)

Yukon Huang is Senior Associate at the Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a former country director at the World Bank in China.

East Asia Forum at is always worth a visit!

(retrieved 06.05.2014 at


Restore the Silk Road

Last September (Ann. of the Editor: meaning September 2013) when he delivered a speech at a university in Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the suggestion that China and Central Asian countries should work together to build the Silk Road Economic Belt. The proposal was met with immediate resonance among neighboring countries and received a warm reception. Some provinces in the western region of China have even begun preparing to participate in the new round of cross-border economic cooperation.

Undoubtedly, the Silk Road Economic Belt will benefit all parties including China and her Central Asian partners. The mutual-benefit economic zone will help accelerate the development of China’s remote northwest regions and also facilitate China’s international cooperation with Central Asian countries.

For both China and Central Asia, the Silk Road played an important role in creating marvelous civilizations and economic prosperity in ancient times. Around 2,000 years ago, a Chinese emperor of the Han Dynasty sent his envoy, Zhang Qian, to the unknown west in search of allies to resist the threat of northern nomads. Unexpectedly, Zhang’s journey pioneered a significant bond between China and Central Asia. Since then, a trade road linking China and Central Asia—even stretching as far as Europe—formed and countries along the road thrived. The historic Silk Road was the world’s longest trade route on land.

Although the ancient Silk Road was eventually replaced by shipping routes via sea, China and Central Asian countries have great incentive to revive the historic link under the spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit. Today, China is the largest trade partner of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as well as the largest investor in Uzbekistan. (…)

Read the full article online here or download full pdf here.

(retrieved 07.05.2014 at


Silk Road to Prosperity

Drug production in Afghanistan has increased 40 times since NATO moved in there 13 years ago. The profit from that drug production has become the financial support of terrorism. I think there must be international cooperation among all neighboring countries of Afghanistan, i.e. China, Russia, India, Iran and hopefully others, to wipe out the drug traffic. The drug traffic problem has become a major security problem for Russia—hundreds of thousands of people die every year as a result of drug smuggling from Afghanistan. It has become a big security problem for China, because one of the drug routes goes through Xinjiang. It is also feeding terrorists in Tajikistan, Russia’s Chechnya, Pakistan and the whole region from Afghanistan all the way to Syria, North Africa and even Central Africa. This has become a major source of threat to the stability of the region.

There must be international efforts to stabilize this region. That is why we have been proposing a very concrete extension of the Eurasian Land Bridge to the whole region, and even to Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa. You have to give incentive to the population and let them see the economic cooperation that gives them the chance to have a better future. There is better incentive than to go to drug production, or to support terrorism, which many people do because it’s being paid. Many people are just poor. You have to change the entire region with an economic development prospect which can only come from the New Silk Road Economic Belt.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and President of the Schiller Institute, an economic and political think tank headquartered in the United States and Germany


Read the full article online here or download full pdf here.

(retrieved 07.05.2014 at


Read more in the Islam category


(reviewed 07.05.2014)


Personal Space in China

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Personal Space – China doesn’t have it

(…) The total lack of personal space in China gets under an American’s skin in a matter of seconds. Riding a bus designed for 40 people, with close to 100 crammed in it is a daily test of my cultural sensitivity. I could tell you stories, but until you have spent 45 minutes practically living in someone’s armpit, in the middle of summer in one of China’s hottest cities, you simply can’t even imagine it.


The living situation as explained by my Chinese friends, the “emic” view, is that Chinese families are much closer than American families. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true in some ways, sharing a few hundred square feet with 6 people would cause close relationships (or insanity). My Chinese co-worker sleeps in the same bed as her 5-year-old daughter, because it is hard to get good apartments near the good schools.


I think this lack of personal space at home carries over into public spaces. The “need” for personal space doesn’t seem to have developed here. Which is why when you climb on to a Chinese bus, you are about to make friends with 100 strangers, and nobody but you is going to mind. (…)

T in Seeing Red in China online here or download full pdf here.

(retrieved 31.01.2014 at


Subway in Beijing (?)

no personal space

(retrieved 01.02.2014 at


When different Concepts of Personal Space collide in Singapore


Personal Space in China
(retrieved 31.01.2014 at


More about Personal Space from E.T. Hall on his website or at a previous post E. T. Hall – Proxemics (Understanding Personal Space)


(reviewed 01.02.2014)

E. T. Hall – Proxemics (Understanding Personal Space)

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E. T. Hall – Proxemics /Personal Space in Different Cultures

Edward T. Hall (*16.04.1914) was the most popular founder of Intercultural Communication. He put up three theories: High / Low Context, Monochrone / Polychrone Conception of Time and Proxemics. Personal Space varies depending on the culture.



  • Intimate distance – 6 to 18 inches (15-45cm)
    This level of physical distance often indicates a closer relationship or greater comfort between individuals. It often occurs during intimate contact such as hugging, whispering, or touching.
  • Personal distance – 1.5 to 4 feet (45-120cm)
    Physical distance at this level usually occurs between people who are family members or close friends. The closer the people can comfortably stand while interacting can be an indicator of the intimacy of the relationship.
  • Social distance – 4 to 12 feet (1,20m-3,50m)
    This level of physical distance is often used with individuals who are acquaintances. With someone you know fairly well, such as a co-worker you see several times a week, you might feel more comfortable interacting at a closer distance. In cases where you do not know the other person well, such as a postal delivery driver you only see once a month, a distance of 10 to 12 feet may feel more comfortable.
  • Public distance – 12 to 25 feet (3,50-7,50m)
    Physical distance at this level is often used in public speaking situations. Talking in front of a class full of students or giving a presentation at work are good examples of such situations.


Understanding Body Language by Kendra Cherry at Read the full post online here or download pdf here.

(received 03.01.2014 at


(…)  According to Hall, perception of the levels of intimacy of space is culturally determined. People from different cultures perceive space (and place) differently. Hall stressed that differing cultural frameworks for defining and organizing space, which are internalized in all people at an unconscious level, can lead to serious failures of communication and understanding in cross-cultural settings. For instance, ‘Germans sense their own space as an extension of the ego. One sees a clue to this feeling in the term “Lebensraum,” which is impossible to translate because it summarizes so much’ (Hall p.134). Or when the English use the telephone, Hall observes ‘since it is impossible to tell how preoccupied the other party will be they hesitate to use the phone; instead, they write notes. To phone is to be “pushy” and rude. A letter or telegram may be slower, but it is much less disrupting. Phones are for actual business and emergencies’ (…).

Proximity as a Prerequisite of Being Human from Future Case. Read the full article online here or download pdf here.

(received 03.01.2014 at


Proxemics is the understanding of space in the holistic sense, as well as the cultural association we place upon space.  It is the study of how an environment, at the interactive and interpretive level, is bestowed with meaning by people in daily life.  The term “Proxemics” was coined in the 1950s by Edward Hall to address the study of our conceptualization and use of space, as well as how various differences impact our experiences within a given area.  In other words, Proxemics is the study of place and space from the cultural vantage point.

Understanding Space from anthrostrategist. Read the full post online here or download pdf here.

(received 03.01.2014 at


edwardthall_1933(Picture retrieved 03.01.2014 at

Read more about E.T.Hall at his website or at E.T.Hall – High Context Communication vs. Low Context Communication


Illustrations of the Theory of Proxemics / Understanding the Personal Space


The Concept of the Personal Bubble

Personal Bubble

(retrieved 03.01.2013 at


The “Close Talker”

Entering the Intimate Space is only allowed to closest related persons. Entering the Intimate Space by others is percieved as an intimidating agressive act.

the close talker

(retrieved 03.01.2013 at


(retrieved 03.01.2014 at!)


Different Personal Space in Different Cultures (European in South America)

A video about a European in Mexico. Europeans usually have a larger personal space than South Americans.

Proxemics Personal Space European vs Mexican HSBC

(retrieved 30.09.2013 at


More about Personal Space at Personal Space in China

(reviewed 12.01.2014)

Culture and Colours

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Culture and Colours


colours in different cultures(retrieved 14.06.2013 at


colour emotion guide


Performable (now HubSpot) wanted to find out whether simply changing the color of a button would make a difference in conversion rates. They started out by trying to guess the outcome of a simple choice between two colors (green and red) and trying to guess what would happen.“Green connotes ideas like “natural” and “environment,” and given its wide use in traffic lights, suggests the idea of “go” or forward movement. The color red, on the other hand, is often thought to communicate excitement, passion, blood, and warning. It is also used as the color for stopping at traffic lights. Red is also known to be eye-catching.” So, clearly an A/B test between green and red would result in green, the more friendly color. At least that was their guess. Here is what their experiment looked like:

colour performance test

So how did that experiment turn out? The answer was surprising: The red button outperformed the green button by 21%. What’s most important to consider is that nothing else was changed at all: 21% more people clicked on the red button than on the green button. Everything else on the pages was the same, so it was only the button color that made this difference.

(retrieved 15.06.2013 at


Red in Western and Chinese Meaning

(…) Because of distinctively different cultural backgrounds, the core meaning of red leads to different abstract meanings in each language. Chinese people used to think they were descendants of the Sun God and red is the color of the Sun God, so the original worship endows festival meanings of red in Chinese culture. Red in English is mostly related to negative connotations, such as anger, guilt and sin, and the main reason may be the correlation with blood. However, apart from different core denotations and connotations of red in both Chinese and English, both languages have similar connotations for positive, negative and warning. (…)

Comparison of Red in Chinese and English – Yanping Bai

Read the whole article online here or download pdf here (11MB).

 (retrieved 13.08.2013 at


Target Markets

Using Color Psychology to Attract Your Target Markets

Your target market is the people or businesses you are aiming to sell your products or services to; it is therefore important that you understand the colors that will attract your specific market.

With many businesses now being global, color has also become global. Know your the market you are trying to attract and speak the color language that they will best respond to. Then test your color choices on a small sample of your market before implementing a large and expensive promotion. Compare several color options, get feedback and then choose the colors which give you the best response.

Color psychology is not an exact science and there are no right or wrong colors, only colors which may get a better response than others from your target market. Understand that there is a physiological and a psychological component to each color as well as the subjective meanings attached by each individual.

Our color preferences are ‘colored’ by our gender, our age, our education, the culture we grew up in, preconceived color beliefs of the societies we live in, our childhood associations with certain colors, and our life experiences, whether those associations are negative or positive.

The following are typical generalizations to help you understand your target market, but remember, there are always exceptions to the rules!

Gender Based Color Preferences

Blue is a color which is generally favored by most people, independent of which culture, country, age, socio-economic bracket, or gender they are from, so it is the safest color to use in all your target markets, although not always the best color to use. Universally, pink tends to be favored by females.


  • Prefer the color blue to red, and orange to yellow.

  • Baby boys traditionally tend to be dressed in blue, except in Belgium where pink is used for baby boys.

  • In the western world many men are color blind so you need to be aware of the red/green visual problems if this is your target market and choose other colors that are not as affected.


  • Prefer the color red to blue, and yellow to orange.

  • Baby girls traditionally tend to be dressed in pink except in Belgium where blue is used for baby girls.

  • Tend to have a broader range of color preferences to men and are more open to trying new colors.

Both Genders:

  • Blue, turquoise, green, red, yellow, black, white, gray and silver are colors that are the most suitable for use in a business marketing to both males and females.

  • Pinks and purples are now becoming more acceptable to males, with pale pink business shirts and purple casual shirts commonly seen on men.

Age Based Color Preferences


  • Cry more in a yellow room.

  • Respond best to high contrast visuals.

Pre-adolescent Children:

  • Prefer brighter primary and secondary colors – red, yellow, blue, orange, green and purple.

  • Also prefer solid blocks of colors rather than patterns.


  • More open to experimenting with more sophisticated and complex colors due to their exposure to computer graphics programs such as Photoshop.

  • More influenced by cultural influences due to multiculturalism and greater access to world markets through the Internet.

  • Many younger teenager girls love varying shades of purple and pink.

  • As they reach their late teens they often show a preference for black – this relates to a psychological need for black during the transition stage from the innocence of childhood to the sophistication of adulthood – it signifies the ending of one part of their life and the beginning of another, allowing them to hide from the world while they discover their own unique identity.

Young Adults:

  • Similar to teenagers.

  • Tastes begin to change around age 25 as they become more sure of themselves and find their direction in life.


  • Prefer more subdued colors.

  • Are less open to experimenting with color, tending to stick with their favorites.

Mature 65+ Years Old:

  • Yellow is the least favored color of this target market, unless it is a pale butter yellow.

  • Preference for clear colors such as fresh blues, pinks, greens.

  • Preference for cleaner colors such as blue-greens rather than olive greens.

  • Are generally more comfortable with the calming colors of blue, green, pink and purple, than the bright, stimulating colors of red, orange and yellow, although some will choose muted blue based reds and pale yellow.

  • Many females often choose colors in the purple range, varying from deep purple and violet, to mauve and lavender, and plum colors, as they grow older.

Corporate Color Preferences

  • The more serious the business, the darker the colors – dark blue, dark green, dark red, indigo, black, gray.

  • The more casual and light-hearted the business, the brighter and lighter the colors – red, orange, yellow, bright green, bright blue, pink and purple.

Class Differences

  • Working class and blue collar workers tend to prefer the bright and warm primary and secondary colors of the rainbow.

  • Wealthier people tend to prefer the more complex and sophisticated colors – tertiary colors, and shades and tints of primary and secondary colors.

Education Based Color Preferences

  • Research has shown that the more educated people are, the more sophisticated their color choices seem to be.

  • Well educated people respond well to tertiary colors and those given unusual names.

  • Less educated people tend to prefer the simpler basic primary and secondary colors.

  • Broader education through the use of the Internet has resulted in greater access to worldwide influences and effects on color choices.

Climate Based Color Preferences

  • People tend to prefer colors that duplicate the colors relating to their climate.

  • People from warm tropical climates respond best to bright, warm colors, while people from colder climates tend to prefer cooler and more subdued colors.

  • In the Scandinavian countries, fresh and bright blues, yellows and whites are popular.

  • In Switzerland, more sophisticated colors such as dark reds and burgundies, gray and dark blue are common.

  • In South America the warm reds, oranges, yellows and bright pinks are popular.

  • Australian Aborigines respond well to the earthy reds, oranges, blues and greens that are seen in the outback regions of Australia.

(retreived 14.06.2013 at


(reviewed 14.04.2014)

China’s GDP in 2013

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Only 30% of the world now has a higher GDP per capita than China (2013)


In many ways, what we are witnessing is not the ‘emergence of Asia’, but the ‘re-emergence of Asia’

(…) In 1820, Asia accounted for just under 60 per cent of total global output, with China and India together accounting for nearly half of global GDP. This was followed by nearly two centuries of economic decline in Asia, ignited by the European industrial revolution—a trend that has now been reversed. (…)

Jayant Menon, ADB

Read the full article online here of here.

/retrieved 09.06.2013 at



(retrieved 09.06.2013 at


China’s economic achievement is so enormous, indeed literally without parallel in human history, that it is sometimes difficult for people to take in its scale. A country which in 1978, when “reform and opening up” was launched, was one of the poorest in the world, has now reached a point where it has a higher GDP per capita than the countries containing the majority of the world’s population. Only 30 per cent of the world’s population now lives in countries with higher per capita GDP than China.

China and the World's GDP

To give absolutely precise numbers, drawing on the newly published data for the world economy in 2012 released by the IMF, the chart shows that by 2012, only 30.2 per cent of the world’s population lived in countries with a higher GDP per capita than China, while 50.2 per cent lived in countries with a lower one. China itself constituted 19.6 per cent of the world’s population at this time.

China is, therefore, now in the top half of the world as far as economic development is concerned, and to avoid any suggestions of exaggeration, it should be made clear that these comparisons are at the current market exchange rate measures usually used in China – although calculations in parity purchasing powers (PPPs), which are the measure preferred by the majority of Western economists, makes no significant difference to the result.

The chart also illustrates China’s extraordinary progress. In 1978, when “reform and opening up” began, only 0.5 per cent of the global population lived in countries with a lower GDP per capita than China, while 73.5 per cent lived in countries with a higher GDP per capita. The transition to a situation where China has overtaken the majority of the world’s population in per capita GDP is the greatest economic transformation in human history, both in terms of the short time frame required and number of people affected.

Given that the data clearly shows China has progressed into the top half of the world economy in terms of economic development, why do some persist with misrepresenting China as being “in the middle” or even more misleadingly dubbing it a “poor” country by international standards?

Such misrepresentations make elementary statistical errors which are familiar to those who analyse income distribution data. For example the following argument is sometimes presented: The IMF World Economic Outlook database gives GDP per capita statistics for 188 countries with China ranking 94th – therefore China is “in the middle”. Another sometimes-cited statistic compares China to the world average – in 2012 China’s GDP per capita was 59 per cent of this average figure – making China appear a “poor” country.

The problem with this “list” method is that it does not take population into account. For example, the Caribbean state St Kitts and Nevis, population 57,000, has a higher GDP per capita than China while India, population 1.223 billion, has a lower one. To say China is “between the two”, as though St Kitts and Nevis and India represent equivalent weights in the world economy, is playing games with words rather than carrying out serious analysis. This elementary statistical rule is particularly relevant given that the number of developed economies with small populations is disproportionately large. The population of countries must therefore be taken into account when calculating China’s real relative position in the world economy.

The second mistake, comparing China to the “average”, makes an error so well known in income distribution statistics that it is somewhat surprising anyone gives it any credence, let alone continues to propose it.

Statisticians know that averages, technically speaking the “mean”, can be disproportionately affected by small numbers of extreme values. It is well known that this applies to incomes within countries as small numbers of billionaires artificially raise average incomes in a way that misrepresents the real situation.

This statistical distortion is clear from international data. Average world GDP per capita, that is world GDP divided by the number of people, is slightly more than $10,000 per year. But only 29.9 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries with GDP per capita above that level while 70.1 per cent live in countries below it. Something with only 29.9 per cent above and 70.1 per cent below is not most people’s idea of an average!

What most people understand by an average, the mid-point, is, in proper statistical terms, not the average but the median. Reputable studies on income distribution, therefore, almost invariably use the median, not averages, to avoid this distorting effect of small numbers of extreme values. Using the statistically misleading average, instead of the mid-point, bizarrely transforms the real situation – that China now has a GDP per capita above that of the majority of the world’s population – into giving the impression that China is a poor country!

There are three main reasons why it is important to accurately present China’s level of development.

First, policy must be based on accurate analysis – in serious matters there is no virtue in either optimism or pessimism, only in realism. As the famous Chinese phrase tells us, it is better to seek truth from facts.

Second, accurate presentation is necessary to clearly understand the real economic challenges China faces. For example China’s GDP per capita is now higher than all developing South and South East Asian countries except Malaysia – clarifying why any competitive strategy for China based on low wages is unviable.

Third, China’s position in the top half of the world in terms of GDP per capita makes clear its technological level – China’s economy is now dominated by medium, not low, technology.

Does an accurate presentation of China’s real level of development endanger its international legal status as a developing economy? The World Bank has not yet published new criteria for the GDP per capita necessary to qualify as an “advanced” economy, but the 2011 criteria and statistical data is available and it tells us that the answer to the question is “no”. To classify as “high income”, an economy must have an annual GDP per capita of slightly more than $12,000. Only 16 per cent of the world’s population lives in such economies. It will take 10-15 years for China to achieve “high income” status – although when it does this will more than double the number of people living in such economies.

Achieving the “Chinese dream” requires that the present reality is accurately understood. China has entered the top half of the world’s level of economic development. Only 30 per cent of the world’s population lives in countries with a higher GDP per capita than China. That is the accurate analysis of China’s relative position in the world economy. To achieve the “Chinese dream” requires eliminating not only any exaggerated bombast but also any systematic underestimation

This article originally appeared in Chinese at Sina Finance and in English at


 John Ross

John Ross

Is Visiting Professor at Antai College of Economics and Management, Jiao Tong University, Shanghai


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(retrieved 25.05.2013 at


Read more about China and it’s economy from John Ross

Key Trends in Globalisation

Seek truth from facts – 实事求是 (Chinese saying originally from the Han dynasty)


World Economic Outlook (WEO) – International Monetary Fund – Survey 2013

World Economic Outlook 2013

(above retrieved 25.05.2013 at,,


What that dramatic economic shift means to people, describes Onionjuggler in her Force Feeding Duck Style:

A student told me this story as part of a midterm last year, and I thought it was so cute I would share it with you.

For her fifth birthday, Helen’s* mother wanted to make her a special dinner. She lived in the country, and at that time everyone was very poor, so meat was hard to come by. Her mother had to take the day off to travel to a different town to buy some pork, and in the end was only able to afford enough meat for Helen– the rest of the family would have to make due with the usual vegetables and noodles.

That night, Helen was so excited to eat her fancy dinner. But when her mother handed her the bowl, her older brother pointed at it and said, “Look out! There is a spider on the bottom of the bowl!”

Helen tipped the bowl over to look for the spider, and poured her whole dinner onto the dirty floor. Her mother scolded her brother, but she couldn’t salvage the dinner. Poor Helen cried and cried, and she never forgot that birthday.

*Her real name isn’t Helen– that’s just the name she chose for class.

(retrieved 25.05.2013 at


China in 2050

China in 2050Photo by Benoit Cezard

(retrieved 13.07.2013 at


(reviewed 13.07.2013)

Perceptions of China

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Perceptions of China


How the world percepts China

Survey of 25 countries and EU sees rise in ‘mostly negative’ rating and decline in ‘mostly positive’ rating, with analysts divided on reasons (China Daily 2013)

Global views of China’s influence have deteriorated sharply, according to a poll conducted for the BBC’s World Service, reaching their lowest level in years.

Analysts said the change reflected China’s increasing positive and negative involvement in international affairs.

The 2013 Country Ratings Poll asked 26,299 people in 25 nations between December and April to rate 16 countries and the European Union on whether their influence in the world was “mostly positive” or “mostly negative”.

Views on China’s influence dropped to the lowest level since the poll began in 2005, with positive views falling eight points to 42 per cent and negative views rising eight points to 39 per cent.

China ranked ninth, behind the US. Of the 25 countries surveyed, 12 held positive views of China, 13 negative views. China ranked fifth in the 2011-2012 poll.

Perceptions of China have deteriorated markedly within the EU, with the percentage of negative views highest in France and second-highest in Spain. In both countries the negative response rose by 19 points in the latest survey, to 68 per cent in France and 67 per cent in Spain.

Views from regions closer to China were not much better, with Australian views on China’s influence plunging dramatically. In the previous survey they were 61 per cent positive and 29 per cent negative but that swung around to 36 per cent positive and 55 per cent negative in the latest survey.

The Japanese response was the most negative among the countries surveyed, with only 5 per cent holding positive views against 64 per cent holding negative views.

In return, the country with the highest negative rating in China was Japan, with just 17 per cent of Chinese holding positive views and 74 per cent viewing Japan negatively, up nine points.

China had one of the most negative attitudes towards the US, with only one in five Chinese respondents holding a positive view, down nine points, and 57 per cent holding negative views.

Dr Lin Limin, from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said China’s image may have been affected by escalating disputes with neighbours and some negative images of rude Chinese tourists and investors, but it was more a reflection of China’s rising power.

“Like (the US) the No1 man, (China) being the No2 man will unavoidably be criticised, which means we are more active in the international arena,” Lin said.

Professor Qiao Mu , of Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the rating had put China in an “embarrassing” position, compared to the nation’s rising economic power and the national image it sought to project.

“It seems China is getting rich fast but its influence ranking is dropping dramatically,” Qiao said. “China is drawing more attention globally, for its increasing foreign aid and participation in international affairs, but now it turns out that the values and the political system China holds are not accepted by the world.”

The poll is conducted by GlobeScan, an international polling firm, and the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.

Friday, 24 May, 2013, 8:57am / Laura Zhou

This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition on May 24, 2013 as China’s global image takes battering in poll of nations.

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Views of China and India Slide While UK’s Ratings Climb: Global Poll (2013)

On average positive views of China across 21 tracking countries have dropped eight points to 42 per cent while negative views have risen by the same amount to reach 39 per cent. After improving for several years, views of China have sunk to their lowest level since polling began in 2005.


Views of Differnet Countries' Influence

Read the whole survey online at the BBC website or download .pdf here.

(retrieved 25.05.2013 at


Global Views of United States Improve While Other Countries Decline (BBC / PIPA 2010)

Last year’s poll found that views of both Russia and China had deteriorated. Looking at the views of the countries polled in both 2009 and 2010, they appear to have stabilized somewhat this year. Views of Russia in particular are more muted, with a decline both in the proportion of those rating it positively (from 31 to 29%) and those rating it negatively (42 to 37%). China’s positive ratings remain at 40 per cent, while its negative ratings have fallen a little to 38 per cent.



Read the whole survey online at the BBC website or download .pdf here.

(retrieved at and


How Chinese percept China

Trust among Chinese „drops to record low“ (China Daily)

„Trust among people in China dipped to a record low with less than half of respondents to a recent survey feeling that “most people can be trusted” while only about 30 percent trusted strangers.

The Blue Book of Social Mentality, the latest annual report on the social mentality of China, analyzed respondents’ trust toward different people and organizations and drew a conclusion that trust in society is poor. The trust level was 59.7 points out of a full mark of 100 points.

In 2010, the trust level was 62.9 points.

The study, conducted by the Institute of Sociology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was based on a survey that asked more than 1,900 randomly selected residents in seven cities including Beijing and Shanghai about their opinions on trust.

The latest poll also found that in China, family members are viewed as the most trustworthy, followed by close friends and acquaintances.

It showed that around 30 percent of the people polled trusted strangers on the street and about 24 percent trusted strangers online.

Ma Jinxin, 27, of Beijing, said he learned about the difficulty of building trust with a stranger at a railway station.

Ma said he had returned to Beijing after a business trip and needed to call a friend but his cell phone was dead. He asked a man at the station if he could borrow his phone, but “the guy refused and asked me to look for a public phone”, Ma said.

“I think we tend to become suspicious about any stranger who asks for help because we were taught to do so at school and at home.

“When we see people begging on the street, the first thought that occurs to us is that they are cheaters.”

Shi Aijun, director of the residential committee at Yulindongli community in Beijing’s Fengtai district, said mistrust among people leads to some challenges in her work.

“It’s difficult to persuade people to open their door for the census and answer surveys that require them to give personal information,” she said.

“However, I think this phenomenon is very normal in cities as people live in a so-called stranger society and when you explain yourself clearly, most people will trust you and cooperate.”

When respondents were asked to name institutions that they generally trust, about 69 percent said government, 64 percent public media, 57.5 percent non-governmental organizations, but only about 52 trusted commercial organizations.

The study also found that mistrust among different social groups, particularly between government officials and ordinary citizens as well as doctors and patients, has grown.

An official from Daqing, Heilongjiang province, who spoke to China Daily on condition of anonymity, said forced demolition in China’s urbanization is one of the social issues that has resulted in tension between governmental officials and ordinary people.

“In terms of demolition, some residents assumed that parts of their compensation have been embezzled by local officials, so they resort to petition to seek higher subsidies, while some local officials treat them as troublemakers and do everything possible to stop them,” he said. “Then mistrust grows stronger.”

Wang Junxiu, who co-edited the blue book from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the low level of trust in China has led to many problems such as the waste of resources.

To improve trust, Wang urged the government to work harder to ensure all powers are under close watch and punish people who operate scams.

By He Dan ( China Daily)

(retrieved 25.03.2013 at



Annual Report on Social Mentality of China (2012~2013)


By:Wang Junxiu, Yang Yiyin

Publisher:Social Sciences Academic Press


Publication Date:2013-01-07


(retrieved 25.05.2013 at Annual Report on Social Mentality of China (2012~2013)


By:Wang Junxiu, Yang Yiyin

Publisher:Social Sciences Academic Press


Publication Date:2013-01-07


(retrieved 25.05.2013 at


Poll about China’s global image (South China Morning Post)

Poll about China's Image in the World

Click on the pic to enter poll.

(retrieved 25.05.2013 at


(reviewed 25.05.2013)