There are only two English language television stations here in Shenzhen, and neither broadcasts in English for the entire programming time. In fact neither broadcasts continuously throughout the day at all, reminding me of the few times I’ve either heard about or seen in movies the famous American Indian Head and national anthem that used to signal the end of the broadcast day for American stations so many years ago. Fortunately for me, both channels here feature shows that largely suit my interests.
Since my arrival I’ve seen fascinating travel and nature shows on Marco Polo, the
During the presidential campaigns a few months ago I remember a prominent party representative being questioned about the incredible amount of money being spent on television ads to advance the cause of his candidate. He gave, what I thought, was a surprisingly relevant answer:
“Companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to convince people to buy the right toothpaste. So no, I don’t think we’re spending too much money on the ad campaign.”
His response made me think about all the commercials I regularly watched, and how little they actually mattered in terms of social education and improvement. I watch a lot of sports, so I noticed how several times in the course of one evening I was exposed to commercials comparing calorie counts between different types of beer, but I didn’t know where to take my empty bottles to recycle them since the privately owned apartment building I live in doesn’t enjoy the benefit of county waste management services.
If you imagine the amount of beer ads you might see during a basketball playoff game or the amount of political ads you might see in October of an election year, you can imagine the amount of public service ads that air here in
I’m unsure exactly how the television media in
In addressing The Short Answer in my previous post I made the point that
Any sports fan can tell you that commercial spots during the Super Bowl are as expensive as advertising on television gets. For the 2005 game, the price was apparently $2.4 million per commercial. Any sports fan can also tell you that there are precious few Public Service Announcements during the Super Bowl. After all, what politician could justify spending 2.4 million taxpayer dollars to remind people to cover their mouths when they sneeze? I don’t know whether the Chinese government pays for the ad time to air their PSAs or whether they simply legislate themselves the ability to do so, but I would suspect the latter. As uncool, and possibly ineffective (I’d really like to do a study on this while I’m here seeing as how they’re essentially attempts at educating an entire society) as these PSA’s are, there is no way the Chinese government would let a big event like the Super Bowl be broadcast without reminding the viewing public many times over about the dangers of driving while intoxicated. (Americans? We just hope that beer companies will take some time after the bikini clad super-models/NASCAR/beach volleyball/burping frog montage to mention it…or at least put it up on the screen somewhere…or at least direct the viewer to the company website so they can learn more...please?).
Like an overzealous basketball referee (sticking with the sports theme here),
Without getting too political, I think a case can be made for
None of this is to say that
If we imagine our basketball referee was also the owner of one of the teams he was calling in a game, we would have a situation close to that of the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation. CNOOC is largely controlled by the Chinese government and recently made headlines for its offer to acquire Unocal, the west-coast based American oil company. This offer, while not directly made with citizen money, is made possible through special loan guarantees by the government. So the offer is ultimately supported by the Chinese public. To draw a comparison, imagine if Ford Motor Company wanted to purchase Volkswagen, except didn’t have the money to do so. Imagine then that Congress voted to give Ford as much money as it needed to make the deal possible until Ford could pay it back. (I doubt whether the American public would support such a move, but if Ford was already half owned by the government and overseen by the State Department, it might be seen as a victory for the nation). While the idea of something like this occurring is almost laughable to Americans, it is exactly what the Chinese are accustomed to. The government foresees a national increase in oil demand and wants to shore up its assets and reserves. Why wouldn't it use businesses to help it do so?
The fact is that, because energy is so important to every nation, the Chinese model is increasingly the manner in which countries have addressed petroleum dependence. The top nine oil companies in terms of reserves are all 100% government owned (in
It would appear the international model for corporate regulation approves of great government involvement in those areas of business that are of great national importance. That
There are obviously other factors separating
If so, where does that leave Americans? Our quality of life may collectively improve, and we may avoid the embarrassing sight of a Wal-Mart on the White House Lawn, but will not our two countries remain opponents and adversaries? At what point does Cold War II begin? Next time I’ll try to address The Real Answer, and offer a more appealing alternative choice for our nations to make. -joe