How the Chinese View Us: Too Many Hamburgers

by Fred Abramson on September 22, 2010 · 5 comments

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is currently on a trip to China. He relays a skit that he believes cuts to the core of how the Chinese view America. Here is the story:

China’s CCTV aired a skit showing four children — one wearing the Chinese flag, another the American, another the Indian, and another the Brazilian — getting ready to run a race. Before they take off, the American child, “Anthony,” boasts that he will win “because I always win,” and he jumps out to a big lead. But soon Anthony doubles over with cramps. “Now is our chance to overtake him for the first time!” shouts the Chinese child. “What’s wrong with Anthony?” asks another. “He is overweight and flabby,” says another child. “He ate too many hamburgers.”

That is how they see us.

Friedman observes that the infrastructure in China is top-notch. He (incorrectly) contrasts China’s bullet trains with the malfunctioning  the escalators at New York’s Penn station, but his point is well taken. The Chinese are racing  to the peak, focusing on creating first class projects that take massive government intervention.   On the other hand, large projects in the US proceed at a snail’s pace.  Exhibit A: My law office is two blocks from ground zero which is still a construction site.

Our political system is hampered by political forces that have more a stake in getting elected rather than providing concrete solutions to our problems.  American’s need to think more about what is best for America rather than what is best for them on an individual level.

What do you think?  Is the political center unfocused? How can our government work faster to create projects in a massive scale to help economy keep up with China? What should the role of corporations and the private sector be?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew September 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Have you read about the nine day traffic jam in China (BBC article: There are two sides to China. I would be interested to find out what percentage of China’s population the good infrastructure benefits. I would bet that it’s small.

Anonymous September 22, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Point well taken Andrew. There is no doubt that China has a long way to go until they catch up with us. However, the rate of change that is happening over there is breathtaking.

Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm
Anonymous September 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm
Mike Colflesh October 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Who cares what they think and how they view us? Seriously.

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