Friday, July 13, 2007

China Needs Institutions for Ethics

My former colleague in Tokyo, Xiaobo Lu, a professor at Columbia University, is quoted this week in an op-ed by Emily Parker in The Wall Street Journal on China's need for institutions to establish a the ethical "rules of the game."

"Right now, it is everything goes--precisely because, yes, everything goes--no good credit checking system, no well-placed fear of violating good norms, one can get away with cheating, et cetera," Lu is quoted as saying. As I have written with Joshua Eisenman in the Globalist, a single minded focus on profit and GDP growth, has created a new rich culture in China.

The Cultural Revolution left a moral vacuum that in being filled by consumerism. "Now that many Chinese lost faith in communist ideology, getting rich has, in a sense, become the national religion," writes Parker.

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