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Galloping into the Year of the Horse, China style

Publication Date : 31-01-2014


Chinese New Near (CNY) is one of the world’s grandest festivals, celebrated by 1.4 billion Chinese people throughout the world for 15 days.

It is a season for family reunions, paying respect to parents and elders and praying for ten thousand blessings. To the Chinese, this is happiness.

It is also a season to celebrate being Chinese, the 6,000-year history of triumphs and achievements and the spread of the Chinese people to all parts of the world.

It is said that wherever there is sunlight, there are Chinese people. And records show that this hard-working and resilient people have contributed greatly to the development of the countries they chose to settle in.

To appreciate all things Chinese, the best way is to look at China.

It is a pity that Malaysia's Look East Policy launched in 1981 focused on Japan and not China, missing out a great opportunity to grow with this economic giant.

Economic powerhouse

From being a very poor country, China rose to become the second largest economy in the world, surpassing Japan in 2009. The rapid and systematic development that has taken place over the last 20 years is incredible.

What I saw while visiting a few cities in China convinced me that my dad did not exaggerate about its shabby cities being transformed into ultra modern cities not unlike Singapore and Hong Kong.

China’s foreign exchange reserves, standing at US$3.82 trillion as of last December, have been fuelling developments on the biggest scale the world has ever seen — modernising cities, building infrastructure and public transportation, and expanding large national enterprises.

Its remarkable feats include constructing high-speed railways to connect major cities from Shenzhen in the south to Shanghai in the east, Beijing in the north and Tibet in the far west; manufacturing jumbo airliners; generating international trade; and investing in key industries in other countries like mining in Australia, construction in Africa and Middle east, wine-making in France, banking and technology in the US and real estate in many advanced countries.

People’s welfare

I admire China’s care for the welfare of its people and rich heritage.

Generous budgets are allocated for education to ensure that the future generations will be better than the current one.

Public transportation is efficient yet cheap.

Public safety in most major cities is as good as it is in Tokyo and Singapore.

Public facilities are built with disabled-friendly features. There are pedestrian malls in every city and many parks for residents to exercise, practise their dances, play Chinese chess or chat with friends.

All heritage sites and ancient towns are very well preserved. Many famous mountains have cable cars to bring old folks and young children to the peaks to experience the thrill of conquering the mountains.

My favourite question to the locals is whether they are happy with their government. Surprisingly, I have yet to receive a negative reply. They appreciate their government for the way it administers the country and say it is up to the individuals to work hard to succeed.

The Chinese government firmly believes that only when its people are happy and harmonious will the nation prosper.

There are 55 ethnic minority groups and 23 million Muslim (an unofficial estimate is 50 million) and the majority group is the Han. They live peacefully and harmoniously together. Like First World countries, China accords special privileges to the minority groups, not the majority.

The locals tell me something very interesting. If any civil servant or politician is corrupt or abuses his power, all it needs is a genuine complaint made by locals and he will be investigated and, if found guilty, will receive heavy penalties including confiscation of assets and/or capital punishment.

I read an article about selection of top positions in civil service and govenrment-linked compnaies in China. Interestingly, the process is adapted from a century-old procedure whereby candidates sit for various tests and are interviewed by a few relevant committees in order to pick the most qualified persons for the jobs.

Top officials selected and appointed are thus among the best in their respective fields. High positions are never filled by political appointees. This accounts for the huge success China is enjoying.

The Chinese spirit

I find the spirit of the Chinese most amazing – what they want, they will work tirelessly for it.

Look at the 51 gold medals the Chinese won in the 2008 Olympics, the Taikonauts sent to space, the world’s longest high-speed railway of more than 10,000km, and the many successful tech giants like Alibaba (valued at US$100 – US$125 billion), Tencent, Baidu, Sohu and Sina.

The Chinese are overachievers with such DNA and they have been this way for centuries. Evidence of it are the 20,000km long Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Army consisting of over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, and many other extraordinary achievements.

The occasional “go back to China” calls made by some uninformed people here seems to make sense in view of the advancement on all fronts there — standard of living, education, healthcare, economy, science, technology, national integration and international trade and relations. Marvelous.

My cousin, a chartered accountant in his mid-40s, has been working in China for fifteen years. He is very happy, earning a handsome near-million ringgit income.

My dad’s former colleague in a bank has been a successful general manager of an international bank in Shanghai for twenty years. His family has made China their home and they intend to retire there.

Overseas Chinese corporate leaders are treated like princes. Robert Kuok is a dear friend and unofficial adviser of China’s past and present presidents and prime ministers, starting from the late Deng Xiaoping. These wise statesmen value the contributions of overseas Chinese.

What I described above are not hollow praises but facts. In the past, China was conquered and colonised by several powerful countries – but it finally prevailed and emerged victorious and prosperous. We congratulate China.

Greener pastures

I recommend our corporate leaders desiring to expand their businesses to look east and consider China.

Others are also encouraged to visit this beautiful country and feast their eyes on the many wonders created by God as well as man.

Muslim visitors will not go hungry as there are many halal restaurants operated by muslims from Xinjiang and Qinghai. Indians will surely enjoy the famous Chongqing spicy hotpot but they have to use chopsticks.

A few days ago, China’s national equestrian champion, aged 25, could not get a seat to travel to another city to visit his wife’s family. So he rode his horse for three days to get there to celebrate the auspicious occasion with her.

That exploit best describes the Chinese spirit and the character of the horse – alert, energetic, strong, resilient, hard-working, patient, obedient, loyal, beautiful and loveable.

I pray that God will bless you with the desires of your heart and all the qualities of the horse and wish you “Ma Dao Gong Cheng”, which literally means that you will achieve immediate success upon arrival of the horse.


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