Yes, the garden is virtually finished, thank you for asking, and as usual it demonstrated yet again Old Sod's immutable Law of Gardening, that is, when you have only one small pot waiting to be filled you will run out of compost! It is then necessary to drive to the garden centre, buy another great bag of the stuff which may will give you a hernia lifting it in and out of the boot of your car, of which you will use approxiamtely 3.2% and when you go back to the bag of compost next Spring it will be mouldy and growing mushrooms. I now intend to spend the rest of the Summer gazing at my garden from the depths of a deckchair until such time as the weeds obscure the view!
Now on to more important matters, guanxi and mianzi, to be exact. I have been progressing with Paul Cheng's excellent book but only slowly. Not for any deficiencies in his prose or the subject matter but simply because of time pressures. In chapter six he raises these two tricky nuances within Chinese society because they are trememndously important to the Chinese. They have rough equivalents in western society but it is the differences that are important. Guanxi is the name given by the Chinese to the circle of connections one gradually builds up in the course of adult life in which one person does another a favour and thus obligates their recipient. In some cases, Mr. Cheng admits, this amounts to good, old-fashioned bribery and corruption - but definitely not in all cases. Chinese law, for the time being, does not reach western standards, not least because it takes account of guanxi but gradually, as it strives to match international requirements, that will change. In the meantime, it is necessary for those dealing with the Chinese to recognise this quid pro quo attitude in which you are expected to give as well as receive. In that way, mutual trust slowly accrues and suddenly doors will open for you and opportunities will arise. It is, I suppose, the exact opposite of the American business philosophy summed up in the immortal words, "Never give a sucker an even break!"
Mianzi, in a sense, simply flows out of guanxi. In essence, it means 'face', or, if you like, dignity, that is, your dignity and the dignity of your Chinese interlocutor. Whatever the outcome of your negotiations with a Chinese, be it business or politics, it is absolutely essential to pursue your aims in such a way that your opposite number does not lose 'face' by your successful achievement. Putting it bluntly, you must 'give him an out', as he will strive to do for you if he gains his ends.
All of this gives you some idea of the subtlety required by westerners in dealing with the Chinese and it is with some dismay that one considers the attitude of your average 'Congress critter', so many of whom are simply loud-mouthed dimwits. Their only excuse is that they mirror the ignorance displayed daily in large swathes of the American MSM which in turn preaches to the converted, so to speak, amongst the Great American Public. It's not much different 'over here' but we don't count these days. If I had my way I would make Cheng's book required reading by every Congressman and every member of staff at the State Department.