Western analysts often miss the point, when they look at the way China conducts business, says China watcher Andrew Batson at his weblog, and he points at an interesting aside in Ian Johnson’s book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao , when he writes about soft openings in China. Case in point: comments on China’s One-Belt, One-Road initiative. Batson: ” It’s already clear it’s the China book of the year.”
China is the land of soft openings: projects are first announced to big fanfare, structures erected as declarations of intent, and only then filled with content. In this sense, developing a new ideology to unify China is similar to building a shopping mall: the deal is publicized, the building goes up, a few stores open, but only years later are all the shops and restaurants open for business, and only after a number of anchor tenants have gone bankrupt. This makeshift model differs from how Westerns like to see projects–envisioned and planned thoroughly, then completed according to that design. But it has its own logic. If viable, the project goes ahead; if not, backing out is easier.
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