Knowing Chinese makes you sexy, rich and happy :)

Lessons from the Ukraine crisis


What is your view on the Ukraine crisis? What ideas would you support more, Kiev and the Western nations, or the rebels and Russia?

If you voted for Kiev, then you probably also support that Tibet is an integral part of China.

Did you vote for Russia, then you voted for a referendum in eastern Ukraine and probably for a referendum in Tibet.

Sure, the historical background of the involved parties are different, yet the ultimate question is: Should any part of any nation at any time have the right for a referendum to become independent?


Another company goes China


eu-china-business-conference
Politicians of EU and China ensuring a healthy and growth oriented business atmosphere

Finally the company I work at is starting its China business (sorry, no names at this point, but google might help you). That came somewhat unexpected, so I was surprised myself that my employer suddenly has the Chinese fever and wants to sell products to customers in China. But I guess that’s what people call an opportunity. I already had a chance to review marketing material in Chinese to make sure it’s free of any errors. There were several parts I didn’t really understand, but mostly I understood. Feels great to make use of my Chinese.

Small and midsize businesses need you!

While learning Chinese makes a nice hobby, there always is the question how you can profit. Chinese still is a language few people speak in Europe. And while small companies don’t have the resources to afford a dedicated translator, they try to hire people they need for they everyday business, who at the same time know exotic languages. As I said before, learn some solid skill plus Chinese and you will be fine.

But it’s not only small and midsize business expanding towards China, business is also going the other direction. More and more Chinese businesses sell their goods in Europe and America. Occasionally I look at job networks like monster.com and there are jobs that require some skill plus Chinese. If you haven’t already started learning Chinese, right now might be a good moment.


Book: Chrystia Freeland “Plutocrats”


It’s rather rare that I recommend a book, but I really have to say something about this book. Chrystia Freeland’s “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else” explains why some people become super rich and the other 99% don’t. This is not a story book about how rich people spend their money, instead it explains the mechanics that are at work in today’s society and how they favor some people. What abilities increase your chances to become economically successful, an history of rich people and how the mechanics of becoming rich changed over time and much more.

Sounds like stuff you’ve already read? You most likely have heard about this and that about rich people, how they got their riches in the news or a magazine. What this book really does is put together all the puzzle pieces into a whole picture, clear as never before.

Despite being full of information it is easy to read. Highly recommended :) Buy now in the book store of your choice.
ISBN-13: 978-1594204098


Do not study sinology!


Are you thinking about what to study at university? Have a rough plan about your career? Does your career plan include places like China, Taiwan or Singapore? If yes, you may be tempted to study sinology. Do not study sinology!

Some people give the advice to study what you like most. This recommendation comes from a time when university students mostly came from a privileged part of the society. Today for many people coming from a rather poor worker class background get a ticket to get out of the mess. This ticket is you university education. So, please, do me a favor and don’t waste this ticket.

If you come from a rather wealthy background the advice in this post may not apply to you, however if you plan to get out of the working class and upwards, keep reading.

Do you know any people who studied sinology? I do, and very very few of them can actually make use of what they have learned. Most chose some type of retraining afterwards. What are the career prospects for a sinologist? Maybe you could remove the dust from porcelain vases? Or drive a taxi in your city? If you are lucky, you could after reaching a PhD become a teacher and teach more little sinologists. I don’t want to say anything about the difficulty of learning Chinese, in fact it’s super hard and you need a lot of motivation. But just because something is hard it doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

You may have read interviews with managers who have to do something with China. They may have said something about how hard it is not being able to speak Chinese and how wonderful it was if they learned Chinese before. But let’s examine the statement. Chinese can be valuable to a manager, but Chinese doesn’t transform you into a manager in the first place.

Avoiding the sinology trap

What you should do instead is to think how you want to earn money in China. How you want to use your Chinese in Asia. Sinology may be your first choice, but you have to combine it with another skill. In fact, the other skill is far more important if you want to earn money. Once you know what is your other skill, just study that at university and then learn the Chinese language and about China’s culture in your free time.

If it isn’t obvious by now, you should study anything related to engineering, science or economics. All of them are rock solid choices and they will give you an entrance ticket to an acceptable first job upon which you then can build your career. You will also have the income to study what you like. At that point you may be a manager who by chance can also speak Chinese.

That is also how I did it. I studied computer science. Now I have a lot of freedom to just study Chinese as much as I want. I can support myself financially without any worries whatsoever, yet I have the time to build my career with the Chinese language.

Think about it! And if you have any questions leave a post in the comments section.

university_study_in_1350s
Studying at university in the medieval times.


The land of the free not so free anymore?


During the cold war there was the West and the East. It was easy to identify the good and the evil. After the cold war there were democracies and dictatorships, or its small brother authoritarian country or regime or whatever. At least you could be certain the democracy was on the sight of the light.

And when a politician spoke about China, then you could easily hear the massive distrust they have at the other side of the pond. Europe on the other side is more open for cooperation with China. Still, until a few weeks ago the USA was seen as a major ally.

When it became apparent that the USA spied on the whole internet traffic, then it was news. Yet, anyone who has a inner distrust to governments already knew before something like this was going on. When it became apparent the UK did the same shit, I felt something was fishy. On the one hand the United Kingdom is part of the EU, on the other hand when it come to security questions they often aligned themselves with the USA.

But the nail in the coffin came today. The USA is massively spying on EU politicians. I often get asked, why I learn Chinese, the language of a country with a rather backward political system. But what about English? The home of the English language, the USA and the UK are really a bad example of how to treat neighbors.

When Google pulled out of China, one of their reasons was that they didn’t want to cooperate with the Chinese government. It kind of implied, the US government is never expecting to access Google’s data. But that is quite far from the truth.

China or the US, not so sure anymore who is good and who is bad.


China, a safe haven for freedom of speech?


Total control of any communication over the Internet? I bet a lot of countries would love to have that. The country of the free made it a reality. The USA seems to monitor pretty much any communication that goes over the internet. Their intelligence agency NSA has a program called prism, which taps into all major communication platforms like Google (Gmail), Microsoft (Outlook.com), Facebook, Telephone and so on.

While a lot of newspapers are reporting just this, it’s not that much of a surprise. There have been warning voices since many years. Unfortunately major newspapers never listened to them. Some Hollywood spy movies are surprisingly close to the truth. What is news, is the whistleblower Edward Snowden went to China to find a safe place. Some people might argue, that he went to Hong Kong and that city is not really China. While Hong Kong has its own political system, its foreign affair matters are all take care of by the PRC government.

If the USA want to have Snowden delivered, they have to talk with Beijing. Who would have fought that people will flee from the USA to China just because they want to speak out freely?


Chinese-Western spaceflight cooperation?


China has participated in spaceflight for a rather short time. While the first satellite was launched in 1970, the beginnings were rather slow. Decades later China’s space program doesn’t need to hide itself. China has achieved what few other nations have: Sending a man into orbit around earth. At this moment China is the 3rd largest player in spaceflight.

That being said, the Western world should ask itself if a cooperation with China is desired.

Russia (and its predecessor the Soviet Union) has traditionally good ties with China and a lot of technology transfer happened already. Russian space leaders often meet with their Chinese counterparts and it is definitely clear that these two nations already cooperate.

On the other side of the ocean are the United States of America, which does not want to cooperate with China at all. Hardliners currently have the upper hand in this question and technology exchange, joint programs and other forms of cooperation are forbidden. This stance is rather one-sided. While the USA prohibit cooperation, China is willing to cooperate.

In Europe ties with China are slowly developing. On several occasions Europe’s space agency ESA worked together with China’s national space agency CNSA. Scientists from both sides occasionally work on projects from the partner and talks continue if a future Chinese space station can be built with support from Europe.

One of the outstanding projects of cooperation in recent times was the Mars-500 project. A flight to Mars was simulated in a laboratory on earth. Six participants from CNSA, ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency flew to Mars. A space habitat was built and the crew had to live these 500 days in cramped conditions. While this was only simulated on ground, many new insights were found and furthermore, the three partners showed that they can cooperate very well.

The head of the European Human Space Flight and Operations Directorate, and former German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, said in an interview that some current ESA astronaut trainees are also learning Chinese.

I think, if the West cooperates with China in space, there initially will be some technology transfer towards China. But it may turn out as a good investment. China is growing continuously and even without any technology transfers there is little to stop them from being the leading space power in 20 to 30 years. At that moment a technology transfer in the reverse direction could take place. So why not just start to cooperate now? And learners of Chinese can profit as new job opportunities in space engineering open up.

Crew of the Mars 500 project
Crew of the Mars 500 project onboard their space ship. Image: ESA


2013


Who is still reading here?

This blog took a long break, and I feel like I want to write again. Not to often, because I’m kind of very busy, but maybe once a month? And I’d love to have some conversation with my readers.

Working full time for a company has changed so many things for me. It was a major break when compared to my rather lazy life before. It took me more than 6 months to do just about anything besides work. So from January to May or June 2012 I hardly learned anything. In late summer 2012 I finally managed to get things done besides my normal work. And I’m starting to like it. I’d even say, I kind of enjoy being busy.

Also, in summer 2012 I finally bought one of those fancy mobile phones with a huge screen. Before I had a BlackBerry with a rather smallish screen. I wasn’t sure if I really needed this huge Galaxy Nexus, but now that I have it, I can’t imagine a life without it. Before learning Chinese while on the go was painful to say the least. Now I can just pull out my phone and within seconds I’m learning. Waiting in a line has never been this pleasant.

That’s it for now. Still alive, still blogging, still learning Chinese. Let’s roll!

Update:
I made the worst mistake a WordPress user can make. Name a post the same as a category and therefor making it impossible to comment. The issue is fixed now and I learned something new about WordPress.


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