The Danger of False Truths – Part 3/3

July 23, 2011

In another e-mail, this “old” friend questioned China’s behavior in Asia and mentioned the disagreement between Vietnam and China over some offshore oil fields that both countries claim.

He felt this was a sign that China would wage war on other countries and inferred this would not happen if China were a democracy similar to the US, since “no democracy has ever gone to war with another democracy” (his words).

Soon after I received that e-mail, I used Google and found Democracies Do Not Make War on One Another … or Do They? by Matthew White, who does a great job throwing ice-cold water on another false truth.

White says, basically, it depends on the definition of democracy and that individuals will shift the meaning of the definition to fit what he or she wants to believe.

To come up with a set of probabilities, White studied the wars that took place in 1967 and came up with these results:

White wrote, “Now, 1967 is just a single year, but I’ve spent a good deal of this Atlas counting democracies. I can state with reasonable certainty that 44.5% of mapable sovereignties during the WW2-Y2K Era were full democracies. This calculates out to…

  • The odds of 2 random democracies going to war: 19.8%
  • The odds of 2 random non-democracies going to war: 30.8%
  • The odds of a random democracy going to war with a random non-democracy: 49.4%

He also mentions an interesting theory that “no two countries with a McDonald’s Restaurant have ever gone to war with one another”, which seems to indicate that as countries are incorporated into the global economy by trans-national corporations, they stop waging war on one another.

This theory is an individual truth that most of us might want to believe since there then should be no worry that the US and China will ever wage war.

In 2009, the US had 13,381 McDonalds and in 2010, China had almost 1,000 with thousands more planned. In addition, China has thousands of Pizza Huts, KFCs, Starbucks and the Chinese love to drive Buicks and Fords. Wal-Mart is even building stores in China.

However, I discovered the McDonald’s theory might be another false truth.

Pakistan has 25 McDonalds and the first one was built in 1998. India has 192 with the first built in 1996, and the last Indo-Pakistani War was in 1999.

Return to The Danger of False Truths – Part 2 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

The Challenging Chinese Consumer Market

May 16, 2011

When foreign businesses such as Home Depot or Wal-Mart open for business in China, knowing the market and consumer is a good idea.

Most Chinese consumers have a different perspective than most Western shoppers when it comes to spending money. The average Chinese consumer born before 1980 prefers to pay cash and buy the best quality for the lowest price.

There’s also a difference in spending habits between younger Chinese born after 1980. Evidence suggests that younger Chinese have caught the credit card virus and are running up debt similar to the average American consumer.

Bob Schmitz writing for NPR’s Marketplace on Friday, April 8, 2011 says, “Home Depot not a hit in China.”

Schmitz talks to Raymond Chou, the CEO of Home Depot operations in China. When asked about closing five stores, Chou indicated this is not a sign of failure and said, “(Home Depot) has closed stores to focus on China’s lesser-known cities where much of the country’s real estate development is booming.”

One criticism Schmitz writes of is the fact that many of Home Depot’s products are made in China and may be bought for less from Chinese merchants.

However, one Chinese contractor says he shops at Home Depot because “It’s easy to exchange and return goods… and (he) knows the materials (at Home Depot) are safe and not fake.”

Wal-Mart critics may rejoice. According to NPR, Wal-Mart’s goals in China are to purchase a chain of retail stores there.

If this scheme will succeed remains to be seen. Wal-Mart has faced slowing business in the United States, is struggling in Japan and failed in Germany and South Korea.

Wal-Mart’s biggest challenge is to overcome its habit of fighting unions and paying low wages, which forces many workers to rely on local welfare and public-health programs. This isn’t welcome in some markets and is the reason why Wal-Mart left Germany.

For the same reasons, Wal-Mart, which is allergic to unions and paying workers a living wage, is facing a Chinese government that is strengthening worker protections and rights to organize/join labor unions.

Last summer, Wal-Mart was forced to allow its Chinese workers to join a union for the first time.

To understand the Walton family, reported, “As Sam Walton explained in his 1992 autobiography, Made in America, he didn’t believe in giving ‘any undeserving stranger a free ride’. Nor did he believe in being generous with company profits.”

Forbes reported that the Walton family was worth about 90 billion dollars or 18 billion each.

Discover how China is Holding a Vital Key to Humanity’s Future


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to iLook China, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click it then follow directions.