• China's IT Outsourcing Firms Aim to Move Up the Value Chain

    2011-10-19 15:10:22

    Microsoft, IBM and other multinational companies have long been customers for VanceInfo, one of China's largest IT outsourcing firms. With more than 11,000 employees, VanceInfo leverages China's low-cost work force to develop products and enterprise software for many of its clients.

    IDG News Service — Microsoft (MSFT), IBM (IBM) and other multinational companies have long been customers for VanceInfo, one of China's largest IT outsourcing firms. With more than 11,000 employees, VanceInfo leverages China's low-cost work force to develop products and enterprise software for many of its clients.

    But continuing to rely on low-cost labor to attract business is becoming outdated, said Ken Schulz, vice president of global marketing for the company.

    Facing rising labor wages and increased competition, Chinese IT outsourcing firms like VanceInfo intend to provide more that just cost savings for their customers.

    "In order to tap the market, we can't just focus on staffing," Schulz said. "We don't want to get paid for the people, but get paid for the solutions we can provide."

    While India is home to the world's largest outsourcing firms, multinational companies have also looked to outsourcing firms in China, not only due to the country's equally low-cost labor force, but also with the aim of tapping the country's vast market.

    Companies like VanceInfo, which was founded in 1995, have seen demand for their services surge as a result. In 2011, the company's revenues are forecasted to reach US$275 million, a year-on-year increase of 30 percent. Staffing has also increased from 3,700 in 2007 to 11,600 in 2010.

    VanceInfo's past work has included localizing products for the Chinese market. But as foreign companies have relied on outsourcing firms like VanceInfo, so have China's own domestic IT companies, which have also exploded in growth. In 2006, only 5 percent of VanceInfo's customer base came from China, Schulz said. Now that number has reached 45 percent, with VanceInfo's U.S. customers at 34 percent.

    "Chinese companies have their own IT departments, but they want to build up their IT capabilities. They are facing competition and they want to go global," Schulz said.

    HiSoft, another major Chinese IT outsourcing company, has seen the same kind of growth. While most of the company's customers come from the U.S. and Japan, now 17 percent of HiSoft's client base is from China, which include Internet companies, banks and telecommunication companies. Two years ago, that percentage was zero, said HiSoft CEO Tiak Koon Loh.

    "We have served international clients like Microsoft and GE (General Electric) (GE). They have been outsourcing to vendors for a long time. So we took the best practices and what we learned from them and leveraged that to build capabilities to serve our Chinese customers," he said.

    China's market growth, its huge talent pool and Chinese government tax incentives have all helped drive the industry, according to outsourcing firms in the country. But to stay competitive, outsourcing companies have had to cut costs as they deal with rising wages due to the Chinese Yuan's appreciation.

    In the cases of VanceInfo and HiSoft, both companies have migrated parts of their business further inland to smaller cities, where wages are lower compared with Beijing and Shanghai.

    But in the future, China's cost-saving advantage will grow weaker, said Chen Ximin, COO of Neusoft, another major Chinese outsourcing company with more than 18,000 employees. Furthermore, multinational companies want more than just low-cost labor, but complete product solutions, Chen said.

    "We have to leave behind this thinking of just offering a simple cost-saving advantage," he said. "The advantage won't last, and it's something we have all been aware of."

    To meet the challenge, Chinese IT outsourcing companies have shifted toward being providers of customized enterprise software. Products can involve building online banking programs or creating software used to support telecommunication networks. At the same time, the companies have been more active in investing in research and development projects.

    But while Chinese IT outsourcing firms try to leverage their own advantages, they still fall behind their Indian rivals in terms of scale. Infosys, one of India's largest IT outsourcing firms, employs 130,000 people, ten times more than the largest IT outsourcing companies in China. This allows the Indian firm to take on bigger projects.

    Chinese companies like Neusoft and VanceInfo aim to better compete by expanding near-shore offices in countries like the U.S. and Europe, where Indian outsourcing companies already have a presence.

    In spite of the challenges, the market for China's IT outsourcing firms is only expected to grow, said Tina Tang, an analyst with research firm Gartner (IT).

    "China will obviously become a bigger player," she said. "Even as it will have to compete with other countries, China can become a provider of high-level IT services."



  • Business Etiquette and Corporate Style Tips

    2011-10-18 10:50:39

    Q: I occasionally brainstorm ideas with a co-worker, but he recently presented one of mine as his own. How do I handle this?

    A: First, be certain that you made it clear that the idea in question was yours and one you intended to present.

    If you did not, assume that your co-worker genuinely did not remember how the idea came to him, and let it go.

    If, however, you are certain of the impropriety(不得体), approach your co-worker in a nonconfrontational manner. Let him know that you believe the idea was originally yours and that he may have unintentionally presented it as his own.

     If he is open, see how you can work together to rectify the situation. Regardless, be sure to build on the idea and make your contributions known to others. While you may not receive credit for the initial concept, colleagues will remember your role as a team player and strategic thinker.

     To avoid a similar predicament(尴尬的处境,困境,窘境 ) in the future, share your ideas in a group setting, rather than with just one person. In addition, take the initiative to schedule a short meeting with your manager to share your most viable ideas.

    —Carol Davidson, StyleWorks of Union Square

  • Daily Words

    2011-10-18 10:26:01

    make lame excuses 
    appreciate your candor
    n. 坦白,直率,公正
  • Headhunters Job Search Tips and Interview Advice (5)

    2011-10-18 10:06:28

    Getting on the A-list at work is ridiculously simple. Take on a miserable-but-important project that nobody wants or where others have failed … and succeed.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Give Yourself a Break

    Come down off that ledge. Please remember that what’s happening out there is a reflection of the overall economy. It’s not a commentary on your specific qualifications.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Behave Like an Invested Party

    At job interviews, show prospective employers you want to add value to their organizations. Act like you’re already on the payroll.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Hold Your Own at the Interview

    The more you want to be taken seriously as a candidate, the more you should forget that you are one. Imagine instead that you’re a consultant and that you’ve just been paid a huge, nonrefundable fee to attend this meeting.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Make It a Bit Personal

    Don’t address letters to “Dear Recruiter.” Acknowledge the recipient by name, and he or she might actually remember yours.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    A Few Words About Cover Letters

    Cover letters need to be way brief. Think haiku. Didn’t you hear that the whole world now has ADD? Mention that your résumé is attached and say goodbye.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Empathize With the Résumé Reader

    Think of whoever reads your résumé as an audience, then manage their eye movements. Did someone tell you those horrid little bullets would make it easier to scan? That’s exactly why you don’t want to use them. Shameless self-promotions, garish buzzwords, and “inventive” graphics are as image-positive as polyester leisure suits.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Be Realistic About Your Trajectory

    If you’re a dermatologist in Buffalo who wants to pitch for the Yankees, you’ll need a wicked slider because even the best résumé won’t help. And no, 10 years of accounting experience broken down into core competencies doesn’t qualify you to become the next CFO at Google. Putting fantasy on paper won’t make it come true. Ask yourself honestly, “Can I get there from here?”

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Advance by Achieving. It’s That Simple

    Don’t rely on recruiters to package or promote you. Seriously. We are not the answer to your prayers. Most of us never even answer our phones. Do brilliant work in your industry or discipline and we will find you when we have the right opportunity.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Make Your Résumé Just the Facts, Ma’am

    Write your résumé the way Jack Webb spoke on Dragnet: simple, direct statements in government-style, gray-flannel prose. No embellishing. The number of pages doesn’t matter; substance does. Tell your story and get out of there.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Don’t Jump at the First Offer

    Take a lesson from Smokey Robinson and “Shop Around.” Avoid jumping into a job where you think you’ll be miserable. Chances are there’s at least one more option around the corner.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Know That You Will Get a Job Soon Enough

    Understand that despite what you see on the cable networks, we are not living in the End of Days. Yes, it’s miserable out there—worse than most of us have ever seen—but it will be a bad memory sooner than you or CNBC imagines.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Work Swiftly but Patiently

    Listening too closely to your inner “job clock” can get you wound way too tight. Yes, time is of the essence—there’s not a minute to waste—but most people underestimate how long it takes to find the right gig. Pace yourself and spare the whip.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Don’t Throw Out the Baby …

    Revitalize yourself, but don’t reinvent. Companies need the experience and accomplishments you’ve earned over time. Leave the instant makeovers for people who have something to hide. Leverage what you already have instead of focusing on what you fear you may lack.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Rein in Expectations

    Be realistic and set your goals at achievable levels. Naked ambition is a great thing, especially on reality TV, but baby steps may be more effective at the moment. Besides, starting at the top is overrated.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Job Hunters, Calm the Heck Down

    Bleak as the employment market may seem, the solution is not finding elaborate gimmicks or reaching the perfect pitch of frenzy. Forget the video cover letter, the chocolate-chip cookie résumé, and the Robin Williams interview style.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

  • Headhunters Job Search Tips and Interview Advice (4)

    2011-10-18 10:05:35

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Talk About the Team

    Whether interviewing or happily employed, learn to communicate without using the words “I” and “me.” Talk about the players and the total effort, acknowledging and crediting others. It will become contagious and you’ll get your share of the glory, too.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Strapped for Time on the Job Hunt?

    Use services such as resumerabbit.com and jobdrone.com that post your résumé to multiple job sites at once. They can save you hours of data entry.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Forget Easy Tricks, Quick Fixes

    There are no success secrets. It’s about experience, performance, maturity, and attitude—rather than techniques, protocol, gimmicks, and magic talismans.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Take Community Action

    Look for a community service project sponsored by the employer you’re interested in and offer your skills to it. You will learn about the company culture and make some key contacts.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Post your photo on LinkedIn?

    If it’s a solid asset, great, then use it. Please make sure we can see your face clearly, the mug shot was professionally done, and it conveys a “strictly business” demeanor. When in doubt, leave it out.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Radiate Cash-Cow Karma

    How do you get a recruiter’s attention? Look like a meal ticket for future search business once he or she installs you in that sleek new corporate role.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Plain Old Hard Work

    Perspiration still wins over inspiration. Being a professional doesn’t mean you have to be super-motivated in everything you do. It means playing at the top of your game and performing as if you were inspired.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Come Clean Constructively

    Don’t be freaked out by the interview question, “What wrong turns or unfortunate choices have you made in your career?” Ability to answer this confidently demonstrates your capacity for honest self-analysis and introspection.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Stay Positive

    Play to your strengths. Don’t focus on what you perceive to be your weaknesses and limitations. It’s a huge waste of energy.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    About Cover Letters

    Think haiku. Didn’t you hear the whole world has ADD? Since attention spans max out at about three seconds, mention that your résumé is attached and say goodbye.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    How do you get a recruiter’s attention?

    It’s a distinctly unglamorous method but oh-so-reliable. Do memorable work in your industry or profession and we will find you despite your employer’s best efforts to conceal your brilliance from the rest of the world.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Second-Place Blues?

    If you were runner-up for a position that was exactly in your sweet spot, you have nothing to lose by calling the hiring manager 90 days later and asking how that new hotshot is working out. You may be surprised to learn that she wishes she had gone with you after all. Stranger things have happened.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Tell Your Boss the Truth

    Here’s an opportunity for an up-and-comer who doesn’t have the universe to lose: Earn your boss’s trust by saying the hard thing, the thing nobody else has the insight or courage to say.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    While preparing a résumé or interviewing, resist the urge to tell me you’re a “highly motivated, results-driven, visionary, world-class entrepreneur.” May I decide that for myself, after I’ve had time to consider your many accomplishments?

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Pull Off a Feat

  • Headhunters Job Search Tips and Interview Advice (3)

    2011-10-18 10:03:35

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Remember: Worrying Produces Nothing

    No matter how legitimate your need to panic—money, health, children—stressing and obsessing will only paralyze you. Has gunning the fear engine ever done anything to relieve the pain?

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Plan What to Ask

    Make a list of questions to ask at your job interview. Avoid long-winded ones; get to the point. Ask upbeat questions the interviewer can answer with positive information about the organization.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Can the Holier-Than-Thou Stuff

    Don’t be sanctimonious. Hey, what’s the weather like up there on Mt. Olympus? Nobody can stand that crap, so just don’t start.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Remember It’s Not Over Till It’s Over

    Write a follow-up note when you don’t get the job. This is so unusual that you’ll stand out, and perhaps the interviewer will know of other opportunities and recommend you. Don’t be afraid to ask that question in the note.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Quit Groveling

    Consider giving up manipulation entirely. Flattery, appeasement, and old-fashioned boot-licking are especially poisonous to a relationship, even if your manager is a modern-day Caligula.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Keep It Rosy During Job Interviews

    Maintain a positive, upbeat attitude. Everyone wants to be around a winner. Never criticize your current or former manager or employer.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Enough with the Anxiety

    When you worry, you’re just recycling the past. This is now. Extricate yourself and do something useful.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

    One small negative step can sink a job search. Never ask about telecommuting, job sharing, whether or not relocation is necessary, what sort of car will be part of the package, or whether this a cubicle or windowed-office position.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Don’t Toady in the Presence of a Giant

    The key to dealing with larger-than-life people who rule your destiny is this: Never suck up, but remember the conversation is always about their issues, not yours.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Avoid the ‘Department of Redundancy Department’

    Keep track of your career networking efforts so you never send out duplicate e-mails or notes, as this will be perceived as disorganization or worse, sloppiness.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Win Via Discretion

    Assume that people never keep anything you tell them in confidence. Gain mastery over this secret weapon, and you will become powerful beyond your wildest dreams.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Let Job Sites Work for You

    Use major job search agents, such as www.theladders.com or www.execunet.com, where you sign up and receive job listings by e-mail. You’ll get to more jobs, more recruiters, and more opportunities.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Rise in the Wee Hours

    Every successful person since the advent of opposable thumbs has risen at the crack of dawn. Set your alarm and get moving.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Feeling out of the Loop?

    Contact former professors with whom you had particularly good bonds. Odds are they can advise you on how to get current in a changing job market.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Make Them Feel Important

    Please remember that headhunters, like lecherous old men, need a little love, too. (Occasionally it’s an overlapping demographic.) When a recruiter calls, say the magic words: “Hold on a second. I have to close my door.”

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Get with the Gratitude

    Thank-you notes are a must. E-mail is fine, but be specific as to what excited you about the opportunity, how you can hit the ground running, and what impact you can make immediately.

  • Headhunters Job Search Tips and Interview Advice (2)

    2011-10-18 10:02:18

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Dump the Young-Person Baggage

    Are you defensive? Insecure? Always worried about how you look to others? Cut that out!

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Ooze Confidence, Not Arrogance

    Cocky is never O.K. During interviews, don’t use superlatives such as “great at” or “wonderful” when describing yourself.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Try This Little To-Do List

    1. Let people underestimate your abilities. 2. Vastly exceed their expectations. 3. Get promoted and enjoy the last laugh.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Come on, Get Real

    Please don’t waste your valuable time applying for jobs for which you fit none of the qualifications. This will only demoralize you when you get no response.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Help, Don’t Opine

    Co-workers don’t value your input nearly so much as your cooperation. It’s all about how you make the other person feel about him- or herself.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Turn Rejection into Enlightenment

    Didn’t make it past the initial phone screen? Don’t take it to heart; try to get feedback on why. Always strike a friendly, open, positive tone when probing for feedback.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Take the High Road

    The simplest and most elegant way to stand above the crowd will always be through the virtue of your actions. It means taking individual responsibility, making good on promises, not exaggerating, always having your mouth and your heart in perfect agreement.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Prepare for the Big Interview Question

    The most frequently asked question is, “Tell me about yourself.” The wrong answer is, “What do you want to know?” This tells the prospective employer you’re unprepared for the interview.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Watch Your Words—and Tone

    Real life is like high school. Get ready to be judged on popularity. Recognize that how you say things is often more important than what you say. Above all, don’t tell people what’s “wrong” with them.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Put Real Effort into Cover Letters

    Generic cover letters are a big no-no. They turn off the prospective employer as they demonstrate that you didn’t even have enough interest to research the job or hiring firm.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Turn a Negative into a Positive on the Interview

    Instead of saying, “No, I’ve never done that” and feeling miserable afterward, try, “You know, I haven’t had the opportunity to do that before but have always wanted to learn. Would I be able to here?”

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Go Traditional

    What is the new look for interviewing? The old rule remains true: dark suit with plain shirt or blouse. You’d be surprised how many candidates get this wrong.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Let Interviewers Reach Their Own Conclusions

    Your next boss wants to be enamored, not assaulted. In business as in love, infatuation rarely results from a hard sell or a soft-shoe routine. Always explain, but resist the urge to exclaim.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Explain Résumé Job Gaps Skillfully

    Make it brief, honest, and positive. For example: “I felt I would be doing my employer a disservice by staying on once I decided it was time to move on and decided to make the job search a full-time endeavor.”

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Do Like a Boy Scout

    A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Need we say more?

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Write a Can-Do Résumé

    A good résumé advertises not what you’ve done but what you can do for your future employer.

  • Headhunters Job Search Tips and Interview Advice (1)

    2011-10-18 09:49:25

    Headhunters Job Search Tips and Interview Advice

    Executive recruiters share words of wisdom about networking, finding a job, interviewing, improving your résumé, and climbing the corporate ladder (updated with a new tip every week


    “Train” Your Thoughts on Transportation Overseas

    If you’re interviewing in a foreign country, make sure ahead of time that the trains are running. I just had a candidate lose out on a job in Paris because of arriving an hour late. France’s state-owned railway, SNCF, was having a strike.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Each Job a Whole New Ball Game

    Every business endeavor comes with its own set of values and challenges. There has never been an empirical “scale” by which we could gauge the potential worth of individuals to corporations.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Sell Yourself

    At the top of your résumé, list your attributes. Include such assets as tenacity and the ability to think critically and work well collaboratively and individually.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Practice Saying ‘Aw, Schucks’

    Two words: humble gratitude. Don’t be the larger-than-life ego that sucks all the air from the room. Give others credit.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Take a Dry Run
    Drive to the prospective employer’s office before the big day so you know exactly where you are going. Arrive 10 minutes early to give yourself an opportunity to freshen up and take a deep breath.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Spare Us the Buzzwords

    While you may think you’re staying ahead of the curve by discussing mission-critical strategies and scalable synergies, at the end of the day it wrongsizes your core competencies and value-added learnings by diminishing stakeholder traction. Understand that? No one does. People who use lots of business clichés sound like empty suits.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Come with 10 Questions

    Have a list of at least 10 questions that show your interest in the company and the position for which you’re interviewing.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Seize the Day, Every Day

    Don’t wait until you’re at the top of your game to play like you mean it.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Forget About What’s in It for You

    What never to ask about during the first interview: salary or vacation policy.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Build Your Reputation

    If nobody much has ever heard of you, we’re inclined to suspect there’s a good reason.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Be Proactive

    At the end of the job interview, always ask about the next step in the process.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Use the Three Magic Words

    “I don’t know.” Learn how to say it, when to say it, and why. Nothing could be a greater proof of your overall credibility.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Remember the Simplest Way to Impress

    During an interview, pay attention, listen, make eye contact, and don’t fidget.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Stop Comparing Yourself

    There will always be somebody who does it better, faster, more artfully, or for bigger profits. Does that mean you’re a loser? Define success on your own terms and live a fulfilled life.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Calculate Your Compensation

    Remember that employers are not accountable for your financial responsibilities. Determine a reasonable salary requirement by investigating market trends in your field.

    —Tara McKernan, DHR International

    Lighten Up

    Be respectful and sensitive to co-workers, but don’t take yourself so seriously. If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, it may be that others will wind up doing it for you.

    —Mark Jaffe, Wyatt & Jaffe

    Don’t Panic Over Tough Questions

    Never say anything negative when asked such questions as, “What do you think of your last manager?” Answer in a way that demonstrates your respect for authority and ability to work for different types of management styles.

  • China vs. the U.S.: The Case for Second Place

    2011-10-14 09:37:50

    It is now a foregone conclusion that China’s economy will become the biggest in the world sometime very soon. According to the World Bank, the size of China’s economy is $10.1 trillion, compared with $14.6 trillion for the U.S., based on purchasing power parity (which adjusts exchange rates to account for the different prices people pay for goods and services across countries). But China is narrowing the gap in a hurry. Over the past 10 years, the annual real growth of China’s gross domestic product averaged 10.5 percent, compared with 1.7 percent in the U.S. The Chinese economy increased at an annual rate of 9.6 percent in the first half of 2011, vs. a rate of less than 1 percent in the U.S. America’s days as top dog of global output are numbered, at best.

    Should we care? People from Thomas Friedman to Niall Ferguson cite the looming change at the top of the world economic rankings as a bellwether of broader American decline. “We are the United States of Deferred Maintenance. China is the People’s Republic of Deferred Gratification. They save, invest, and build. We spend, borrow, and patch,” complained Friedman in a recent New York Times column. And yet having the world’s largest economy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—and you need look no further than the history of China and the U.S. to see that. The swelling size of China’s economy may be a source of pride to the Chinese people, but America is still by far the better place to live—and will remain so for a long time.

    Although economists are skeptical about China’s ability to sustain its current levels of growth, most agree it is only a matter of a few years before the Middle Kingdom’s 1.3 billion or so people produce more than the 310 million living in the U.S. That means history is repeating itself. The U.S.’s reign as the largest world economic power began a little before 1890, when it supplanted the previous global giant: China. According to data from the late Angus Maddison, an economic historian at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, China boasted the largest economy in the world all the way back to 1500. Prior to the 20th century, its run at No. 1 was interrupted only for a brief period around 1700, when India took a turn at the top.

    And yet during those five centuries when its economy was the world’s biggest, China was never even close to being the world’s wealthiest country. Italy was almost twice as rich in 1500, the Netherlands almost three times as rich in 1700, and the U.K. six times as rich by 1870. Today, though the GDPs of the U.S. and China are roughly equal, the average person in China lives on an income that can buy only 16 percent of the goods and services of the average person in the U.S., and it will take decades for that gap to close. If you’re an American feeling down about losing top economy status, go take a holiday in Guizhou, a poor western Chinese province where incomes are about one-fortieth as high as the U.S. average. You’ll feel a lot better.

    Nevertheless, pessimists warn that being knocked off the top spot could still have all sorts of ill effects for the U.S. Being the biggest economy, they argue, has been vital to American prosperity because, since the close of World War II, the dollar has been predominant in international financial reserve holdings, allowing the U.S. to borrow and trade in its own currency. Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute for International Economics predicts that as China’s economy overtakes the U.S.’s, so too will the relative importance of the renminbi. He argues that within 10 years, the renminbi could replace the dollar as the world’s largest reserve currency.

    But the impact of that change might be less than dramatic. It’s probably true that if the dollar loses its dominance, American companies will have to start hedging against exchange rate risk, and government borrowing might become a little more expensive. But foreign companies already have to hedge currency risk and yet still manage to compete, while less borrowing would surely be a good thing for the U.S. in the medium run. And a renminbi whose value rises—as it will have to if it is to become a reserve currency—should help even up the U.S.-China trade balance.

    What China will soon discover is that being the world’s biggest economy and holding its favored reserve currency have little bearing on a country’s actual economic performance. For proof, just look at the U.S. Between 1890, when America became the world’s largest economy, and 2008, the U.S.’s annualized per capita income growth was about a quarter of a percentage point lower than China’s. America’s growth performance during those 118 years ranked just 15th out of 37 countries for which the University of Groningen’s Maddison has data—behind economies including Denmark, Canada, Sweden, and (wait for it) Greece. Even a number of really small countries have done better than America. Luxembourg has a GDP four-tenths of a percent the size of the U.S. economy, about the same output as the state of Delaware. And yet it is more than twice as rich per person as the U.S.

    For a while in the 1940s, the U.S. showed that the combination of being the biggest and richest power can yield dividends—it was decisive in defeating two other world powers in war and making a global peace largely of America’s own design. And yet being the planet’s largest economy encouraged, or perhaps obliged, the U.S. to try to act as the world’s policeman, which even the most unrepentant neoliberal would acknowledge has been a burden as much as a blessing. Not least, it meant that more American soldiers died abroad last year than troops from any other nation, according to data from Sweden’s Uppsala University. Meanwhile, U.S. military spending now accounts for more than two-fifths of the world total, and it sucks up a larger percentage of GDP than any other member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    If anything, supremacy confers even fewer benefits on the world’s dominant power than it did a century ago. Thanks in large part to the postwar international system the U.S. drove to create, any country’s ability to use size to strike unfair trading arrangements is considerably constrained by the requirements of the World Trade Organization. And China will likely be even more limited—because its economy is so reliant on exports, it needs the multilateral provisions of the WTO even more than does the U.S.

    Of course, it must be nice for President Barack Obama to still be the guy at the Group of 20 afterparty who everyone wants to talk to. And it’s surely a boost to the ego for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to sit behind a country nameplate that is permanently screwed to the table in the Security Council. At the same time, being No. 1 makes you a target of abuse and criticism. Perhaps an America that is No. 2 would be more popular. Country polls conducted for the BBC suggest that America’s image abroad has improved markedly since 2007, when it came out only marginally ahead of North Korea and Iran, though it’s still way behind less powerful countries such as Canada and Germany. Meanwhile, China’s popularity ratings have been falling since 2005, perhaps in part a reflection of its growing economic muscle.

    Ultimately, the best argument for Americans to let go of the idea of being No. 1 is that in the areas that really matter, we aren’t. When it comes to measures of the broader quality of life, the U.S. ranks in the bottom half of the OECD club of rich countries on such health indicators as life expectancy. It ranks around 15th worldwide in terms of the proportion of people who say they are happy, according to Jaime Díez Medrano, director of the World Values Survey archive. That puts the U.S. behind a bunch of small economies, including Norway, Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, and (once again) Luxembourg.

    On the bright side, the U.S. still outperforms China on almost every conceivable quality-of-life indicator, including happiness polls (where China is in 70th place). The average American lives five years longer than the average Chinese person, while under-five mortality rates are less than half the Chinese levels. And though you may take a dim view of the abilities of Congress and the President to manage the economy—or even manage their way out of a paper bag—they remain the voters’ to throw out. The same cannot yet be said of the leadership of the Communist Party of China. So rather than wring their hands over the decline of the U.S.’s relative economic weight, Americans should remember the wisdom of the Founding Fathers and focus on preserving the country’s advantages in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness instead.



  • In search of the American Dream - in China

    2011-10-13 09:48:05

    (CBS News) 

    SHANGHAI - Every day, Ben Paul bikes to work at a Shanghai advertising agency. CBS News correspondent Celia Hatton reports it's a major change from 2009, when he was laid off in Los Angeles.

    "Job hunting in L.A. was really disheartening(使人沮丧的)," he explained. "One, because there's very little to look for in the first place and the really hard thing was that you almost don't hear back or at least I almost didn't hear back from anyone."

    After six months of looking for a job in America, Ben and his wife, Arcelia, gave China a try.

    They made the right decision. Arcelia was in high demand as a therapist for autistic (孤独症患者(常指儿童))children despite having no Chinese language skills. It took Ben just a month to land the senior position he always wanted, even though he only speaks conversational Mandarin.

    More than 71,000 Americans work in China as permanent residents, and hundreds of thousands more are employed under temporary visas. China's leadership is smoothing the way for more white-collar foreign workers to arrive by easing the visa process and extending Chinese social security to all.

    "If you can show people you have the kind of skills that might not show up on your resume," Ben said, "but you believe in yourself, that you have them, there will be someone here that will be willing to listen to you."

    Ben has had a relatively easy ride but not everyone is so fortunate. Americans who come to China searching for jobs have to compete with a growing number of well-educated Chinese people. Six million new college graduates flood China's job market every year.

    "Here in China I really think I can get into a company as they're starting to expand," Pennsylvania native Phil Geanacopolous said. Geanacopoulos has yet to find a job. Every day, he's hitting the pavement in Shanghai, resume in hand, looking to match his ambitions. "If I prove myself within one or two years I can be the executive vice president or head of marketing."

    Geanacopolous is studying Chinese to improve hs prospects and his eventual paycheck. And in China, a salary that may be small by U.S. standards can support a comfortable lifestyle.

    And that's key - Ben and Arcelia miss their family and friends back home, but the trade-off's worth it to benefit from China's growing economy.



  • Mother of 7 offers sex services, sells her children

    2011-10-13 09:37:14

    (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A mother of seven not only offers sex services, but has also apparently 'sold off' four of her children to make ends meet.

    Harian Metro reported that the 37-year-old single mother, who was facing financial difficulties in raising her family, had even imparted(给予,传授,告知) her 'knowledge' in the flesh trade to her 16-year-old daughter.

    Quoting sources, the daily said the mother from Chukai, Terengganu, had also become a drug addict and led her daughter into the habit as well.

    'As a short cut to get their fix, the mother and daughter would accept drugs as a form. of payment after offering sexual services,' a source said.

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