Warum gibt es etwas und nicht nichts? (Why is there something rather than nothing?) - Leibniz

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Good enough for China

From aeon comes an interesting piece on what in China is referred to as chabuduo - close enough.

Chabuduo implies that to put any more time or effort into a piece of work would be the act of a fool. China is the land of the cut corner, of ‘good enough for government work’.

In our apartment in central Beijing, we fight a daily rearguard action against entropy. The mirror on my wardrobe came off its hinges six months ago and is now propped up against the wall, one of many furnishing casualties. Each of our light fittings takes a different bulb, and a quarter of them are permanently broken. In the bedroom, the ceiling-high air-conditioning unit runs its moisture through a hole knocked in the wall, stuffed with an old cloth to avoid leakage, while the balcony door, its sealant rotted, has a towel handy to block the rain when it pours through. On the steps outside our door, I duck my head every day to avoid the thick tangle of hanging wires that brings power and the internet; when the wind is up, connections slow as cables swing.

The apartment is five years old. By Chinese standards, it’s far better than the average.

Read the whole thing - it is a fascinating alternative slant on China as a global industrial powerhouse. It may be an industrial powerhouse, but perhaps there are growing pains too. Severe ones if this piece is any guide.

‘There’s a Tianjin-level explosion every month,’ a staff member at a national-level work-safety programme told me, asking for anonymity. ‘But mostly they happen in places that nobody cares about.’ Careless disasters are buried all the time; when a chemical plant exploded in Tangshan in March 2014, a friend there told me of the management’s relief after the Malaysia Airlines flight 370 went missing the next day, swallowing up all other news and making sure nobody but them noticed, save for 13 widows.


Sackerson said...

Hinkley point.

A K Haart said...

Encouraging isn't it?

Paddington said...

I fear that the rot has really spread. Almost everything I buy is just 'good enough'. Our previous refrigerator lived 20+ years, the more expensive replacement, less than 5.

Nick Drew said...

which brings us back to unsatisfactory software! (see comment on previous post)

A K Haart said...

Paddington - our central heating bought in 1986 lasted for over 20 years with no maintenance and only one repair. We'll be lucky to get ten years out of the current boiler.

A K Haart said...

Nick - it does - I've left a comment.

Timothy Newman said...

I've been saying this for years, I'll believe the supposedly fantastic Chinese technical prowess when major western airlines start buying Chinese aircraft and offshore oil and gas workers are happy to fly in Chinese helicopters. Quality of output is not something that is guaranteed, and it is not inherent in most cultures. I have seen nothing that demonstrates the Chinese will build anything to any western standard of quality, ever. The onus is on them, but there are sections of the west who think their takeover of the world in technological matters is just around the corner.