We’ve seen the expression 就行了 in the last two days, but where does the 行 xíng character come from? The first spellings of the Jiaguwen era evoked a crossroads:
The reform of writing undertaken by Li Si in the 2nd century Av. J.-C. modified the writing as follows:
The idea of crossroads disappeared. Xu Shen 许慎, who was unaware in his time of the first Jiaguwen spellings, noted, four centuries later, in the Shuowenjiezi 说文解字, that the character came 彳et from 亍, two spellings evoking small steps. 行 became a verb and the meaning of crossing disappeared. ( 彳chì is a key meaning small step, to walk)
行 xíng has a lot of meanings: walking / acting / doing / practicing / applying / okay / packing / leaving home / walking / traveling. It has other pronunciations and other meanings.
After yesterday’s 差不多就行了, let’s stay with the second part of the sentence 就行了 and a new sentence 弄点米饭就行了Nòng diǎn mǐfàn jiùxíngle in the serie 都挺好 episode 4 to 24’51.
The context, the father lives with his children for what should be a short period of time and the generation shock makes cohabitation difficult. The couple works a lot and don’t have time to cook. The father has apparently never learned to cook. The son calls his wife to order dishes to be delivered, braised pork and tells her at the end: 弄点米饭就行了. When you know the vocabulary, you can easily understand: 弄, nòng, make / commit / play with / get. 弄 is very much used orally, it is a bit of a catch-all. Here, it means to take in the sense of ordering. 点, diǎn, a little 米饭 mǐ fàn,rice (cooked) Yesterday, we saw that 就行了 has the meaning of “and it’s all right”. The translation will read “Take a little rice and it will be fine! »
China’s public sector generates 40% of the national GDP, which does not prevent it from being at the forefront. By 2020, the world’s 500 largest companies globally include 92 Chinese state-owned enterprises and 30 private enterprises, three times as many public companies. A company’s strength can be reflected in its costs. A 2018 study shows that access to short-term credit is cheaper for state-owned enterprises. They benefited from rates ranging from 5.06% to 5.17%, while the private sector ranged from 6.05% to 6.14%. The spread is the same for long-term and bonds. The public sector is advantageous, as are most, but not all, of its employees. What is the paradox?
Salaries,+51% compared to the private sector … on average
The average wage of employees of state-owned enterprises, 91607 yuan, is lower than that of foreign-owned enterprises 106,180 (about 14% lower), slightly higher than that of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwanese joint-stock and joint-stock companies (slightly higher) 90164, and higher than that of other private enterprises 60551 and thus higher than the national average, 75229. It is estimated that the average wage in state-owned firms is 51% higher than in private firms and 21% higher than in all sole proprietorships. Given the more stable positions in state-owned companies, the social and security aspects, it is not difficult to understand why students are now rushing into them.
No higher salaries for “political” leaders
The Chinese banking sector is very profitable; the salary and benefits are also high. Statistics produced by China Economic Net, based on the 2019 annual report, show that the salaries and benefits of employees of the six major state-owned commercial banks range from 267,800 yuan (Agricultural Bank of China) to 375,100 yuan (Bank of Communications). The presidents of the six banks’ annual salaries range from 469,900 yuan (ICBC Chen Siqing) to 779,300 yuan (Bank of Communications Ren Deqi). ICBC is the “largest bank in the universe” with a profit of 313.4 billion yuan in 2019, but the annual salary of its president is only 1.65 times the average annual salary of the bank’s employees (285,200 yuan). A state-owned enterprise in Chinese :
Among the Big Six banks, there is a “pay “rollover” between government-appointed “executives” with wage restraints and 1. executives from the labor market, and 2. branch managers with no wage restraints. These annual salaries (including those of financial, risk, audit, information manager, secretary of the board of directors, etc.) can exceed one million yuan. The annual salary of some provincial or foreign branch presidents is more than two million yuan. The salary levels of the chairmen, presidents, and vice-chairmen of China’s six largest state-owned commercial banks are significantly lower – three to four times less – than those of the ten largest joint-stock commercial banks (China Merchants, Pudong Development, CITIC, Everbright, Huaxia, Minsheng, Guangfa, Xingye, Ping An and Zheshang) If we compare the six largest Chinese commercial banks with their six foreign counterparts (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and HSBC), the salaries of the president, chairman, and vice-chairman of the latter are 266 times, 225 times and 152 times higher, respectively.
The salary restrictions for government-appointed executives are probably politically motivated, to show that the state’s money is not being wasted and that it is properly managed? Is this a model of socialist management with Chinese characteristics? I don’t think so!
Since I returned to France at the end of 2017, I miss hearing Chinese spoken in various accents. As a result, I do what I have rarely done, I watch Chinese series, which is a real linguistic delight. Following a discussion with several readers, I open a spoken language section. I will point out expressions, phrases, or words that are very “spoken” that I come across in the episodes I watch, and that you don’t necessarily learn in class. I will not give a language course. I will just give some indications that will help you.
Let’s start with one of the only series I watched when I lived in China, 蜗居, Dwelling Narrowness. The story begins when a couple moves to a city that looks like Shanghai. They clean their house, and after long hours, Sun, the husband, has had enough and says: 差不多就行了 chàbùduō jiùxíngle.When we know that 差不多 means ”almost” and 行 “it’s okay, it works,” ，one can quickly understand. On the other hand, 就 allows us to link the two verbs and to translate 就行了 as, “and it will be fine.” 了 indicates the change here. We will translate it as “ It’s good enough this way ! ” The context shows that Su Chun is talking about cleaning the house. It implies that we have cleaned up pretty much, and we will be fine! Note the very “elliptical” nature of Chinese. In six characters, the message is very clear.
The country’s second-largest real estate developer, China Evergrande of Shenzhen, is facing a debt, which could lead him to default. He had warned the government of Guangdong province as early as the end of August of the need to restructure his debt. Beyond an unsurprising event in China, what lessons can be drawn from this episode?
123 billion dollars of debt
At the end of June, the group had outstanding debt of 835.5 billion yuan ($123 billion). 130 is due for repayment at the end of January, equivalent to nearly all of its cash. The information came out at the end of September, causing the group’s shares to plunge, before rebounding by more than 45% since September 25, thanks to the support of its investors and the State.
靠山, Rely on a mountain
When a company is heavily indebted, investors are less concerned about the debt than about the company’s support at the political level. In Chinese, the expression leaning on the mountain is used, 靠山. If the company has the right support, debt is not a big problem. In other words, one wonders who the real investors are, whether they are influential “red” investors or red princes. If they are among the largest interest groups close to the central government, the party can go on. A group without support is nothing. On the other hand, you have to get the right “mountain.” Some companies could develop further if they had the proper support.
When we look at Evergrande’s prominent investors, we see the right color, like almost public companies, such as 山东高速集团, Shandong High Speed Group or a private company, 苏宁Suning, a Chinese Darty, with a lot of funds close to the State.
The debt machine
Each time a hanging occurs, a few measures are enacted to contain the debt frenzy better and, at the same time, occupy the gallery. Last month, the authorities delineated three red lines in terms of indebtedness. China has been able to develop with the help of the debt machine. A Chinese economics professor explained the growth model to me in simple words: “To invest, if you use your own money, you walk. You borrow, you drive. You make mortgages, you fly. “It must be recognized that in recent years the authorities have avoided the slippage that was apparent at the beginning of the last decade and the situation has improved. The real estate sector benefits from better credit from financial institutions than, for example, the manufacturing industry. Developers can pledge property as collateral, use a variety of leverage, and borrow more. Of the 50 largest players in the market, half of them have a more than 80% debt load than the leaders in most economic sectors.
Evergrande is also protected for its importance
Sales of the 100 largest developers fell slightly in the first half of the year, down 1.45%. Creativity, with online sales, helped limit the damage. Above all, it was the promotions with attractive prices that brought in money. Evergrande shows rising figures, but profitability declined and affected cash flow. The Vice-Minister, economist Liu He, about Evergrande, mentioned the famous stability factor. Indeed, the group employs 140,000 people, cooperates with 8400 companies in 229 cities on 7792 projects. Its bankruptcy could affect nearly three million employees. Beijing has, of course, every interest to support the Shenzhen company.
Laundry in progress
No one is fooled! Evergrand is only the tip of the iceberg. The economy has not been doing so well in recent years; the epidemic has only accentuated the difficulties. Part of the debts will not be honored. The sector is in front of a big clean-up. Huang Qifan, who serves as government spokesman on economic matters, had already warned at a conference in the summer of 2019 that two-thirds of the 97,000 companies in the real estate sector should disappear in the next ten years. There are far too many small companies, the market is too complicated. 15% control 85%, which means that more than 80,000 companies (85%) share 15% of the market. In times of declining government revenues, small and medium-sized companies cannot expect too much local governments’ help. Huang’s prediction shows that the government is well aware of the market’s stakes and prefers to leave the small ones for a bottled sector’s clean-up.
Do politics make the economy?
Colossal debts plague China. This is nothing new! At the governmental level, a company’s debt is not a problematic factor if the right support is present. Economics does not make politics; politics makes economics? The most interesting for the government – at various levels – will survive while the economic logic should let the others perish?
The first spelling of 北 showed two people back-to- back. 北 originally meant back. It took the meaning of North. Why 北 became North? A thesis explains that when large houses were built, the large reception hall had to allow the owner to stand facing south and back to North, 坐北朝南. Evolution of the spelling of 北 from left to right:
To avoid confusion of meaning, the meat key 月 has been added, which is found in many characters related to the body and limbs. Thus, 背 bèi was born, and it .
The name China, adopted by Westerners, derives from the first unifying emperor Qinshihuang 秦始皇 and the name of his dynasty Qin 秦, 221 to 206 BC. Many neighboring countries spoke of the land of Qin from the beginning of the Christian era. Thus came the word China adapted to each local language. Other interpretations bring together the words gold, 金 jin, and China or the word tartare for silk, serique, and China. Russia adopted Kitai, from the name of a Mongolian people, the Kitans.
And the Middle Kingdom?
中国 zhōng guó in Chinese refers to the country but has no relation to the term China or the first dynasty. It is composed of two characters 中 center and 国 country. The translation will give Middle Country or Middle Kingdom. But has China always called itself that?
The term had many meanings. The research is blurred by local political aspects that want to demonstrate the whole Chinese territory’s historical continuity. Nevertheless, the documents show that the main meanings of 中国 corresponded initially to the Shang dynasty’s territories, then to the states located in the center of China.
Names of the country
The country has had several appellations—华夏 huá xià de 华 splendor and 夏 first dynasty half legendary. A great Chinese bank, the Huaxia 华夏银行 took this name. People of Chinese origin living abroad with this 华 are called: 华人. Taiwan has taken back 华 in its name 中华民国, wrongly translated the Republic of China, but that’s another story. The People’s Republic of China has done the same with 中华人民共和国. Dynasties preferred to call the country by mentioning the name of the dynasty as the Ming (1368-1644), Grand Ming, 大明. Under the Qing, China was called the Great Land of Qing 大清国.
Are we Chinese?
Historian Shi Aidong reports the findings of a Portuguese merchant who experienced Chinese jails in the 16th century. He found it curious that “the Chinese (Zhongguoren) do not know that they are Chinese (Zhongguoren). He said: “We are used to calling this country China and its inhabitants the Chinese, but when a Chinese person is asked why they are so named, they say: ‘We don’t have that name, we never had that name. Very intrigued, Pereira insists: “What is the name of your country as a whole? When someone from elsewhere asks you about your country of origin, what is your answer? “For the Chinese, this question is very strange, but they end up answering: “In ancient times, there were many kingdoms. Now there is one man who rules them. But each state still uses its old name. These states are the provinces of today (sheng 省). The state as a whole is called the Great Ming (大明), and its inhabitants are the people of the Great Ming (大明人). “( Passage from the text of Dirlik)
Looking for a name
The official adoption of 中国 by the Chinese authorities is still quite recent; it appeared in contact with foreign countries. The term appeared for the first time in the Treaties of Nerchinsk with Russia in 1689. Chinese reformer Liang Qichao :
Some intellectuals of the Qing period, such as Zhang Deyi, initially complained that Westerners now use the term 中国 when the name was Da Qingguo. As the sinologist Arif Dirlik explains, thinkers such as the reformer Liang Qichao (1873-1929) did not want the term to be just a geographical name as Japanese imperialism would later claim. Liang played a pioneering role in constructing modern Chinese nationalism while providing the basis for the “concept” 中国. He lamented that his country did not have a name and that it had changed over time. One school sees in the term 中国, the appearance of a new idea to unite the Chinese under a banner (see Arif Dirlik’s text). This is another political story…
Economist Guan Qingyou 管清友, in an article, believes that the real estate market reached a turning point in 2017 and that the era of consolidation has begun. Developers must change their vision and leave illusions behind. The good times of easy prosperity are over. We have to move from developer to artisan. Large projects, leverage with credit, must give way to better management, raise funds, and generate profits. The market is changing; a more refined approach is needed.
In 2016, the government decided to curb the real estate bubble. As of 2017, many measures targeted financial institutions linked to the real estate sector. Land grants to developers were reduced. In August 2020, the authorities further tightened their supervision to prevent speculation and credit proliferation. Faced with the pandemic, the government, in the spring of 2020, did not include real estate loans in its policy of lowering interest rates for loans. Alongside these measures, a natural phenomenon forces a readjustment of the strategy.
A decrease in the active population
With aging, the working population has been declining since 2013. In seven years, the net loss is 26 million people. The decline is expected to continue. As a result, the rigid market is less important. The surface area per inhabitant has increased significantly over the last 30 years, reaching 20m ². The rate of progression is the first in the world. Improvements are still needed.
The potential of urbanization
China’s urbanization is accelerating, focusing on medium-sized cities, which are part of city clusters. These municipalities have implemented many policies to attract population. The economist estimates that 200 million new people are expected to move to cities. This factor presents a strong potential for companies in the sector.
Guan draws attention to the need for real estate groups to adapt to the changes taking place: increasingly strict measures to curb price increases and speculation; and the decline in the labor force. A more refined market strategy must take the place of the gigantic old projects to address newcomers. Hope can remain with the future urbanization, which is expected to bring 200 million people to the cities. They must find housing. Nothing to worry about then?
The etymology of Chinese characters remains a place where certainties are on a slippery ground. The 3000-4000 years of history of Chinese writing leaves some unknowns and the door open to interpretations without foundation or with.
The character 聊, liáo, chat, discuss, is a witness to this. One of the ancient spellings has multiple interpretations.
The first sense is a small noise, buzzing near the ear . . On the right, the character remembers two door or window leaves. It is a noise like when the leaves open and close . By extension, to chat.
On the left 耳, the ear gives the meaning, and on the right, 卯 mǎo, the sound.
Two people and an ear . This last interpretation is part of a theory which sees in the right part 卯 two people kneeling face to face:
At least, reflecting on these differences, one remembers his writing.
Does China’s renaissance require greater state control of the economy? A look at the last decade shows progressive advances by the State in the private sector, as we have discussed here.
The most critical spoke of a new wave of nationalizations in the 1950s and the return of the “公私合营 Public-private partnership.” In the face of the turmoil caused by the Sino-American trade war and the epidemic, the government asked the private sector for more patriotism, Xi Jinping himself on September 16, and a communiqué from the central government website. In exchange, these companies will have the full support of the State. The phenomenon is not new. The biggest private companies had to find help to develop. Until then, they played with the influence of the various clans. This time, the State is showing its ambition. It wants more unity.
To overcome ideological clichés, going back in history allows us to realize that the hand of the State over the private sector, described as the soft ” 公私合营 Public-private partnership,” is not new. The nationalist government of the Republic of China (1927-1949), inspired by Sun Yatsen’s ideas, had already shown such practices as early as 1935, and this is not a first in the country’s long history.
It is necessary to go back to the 7th century B. C. and find Guan Zhong 管仲. Prime Minister of the State of Qi during the Spring and Autumn period, a supporter of a powerful state and a strong army, he needed money to finance defense and military attacks. He recognized the importance of economic vitality, but he was suspicious of nobles and merchants. He excluded them from essential areas to create state monopolies, especially on natural resources such as salt and iron. The central government collected taxes itself and put the power of the time on a folding chair. This move towards the private sector comes at a difficult time when the announced decoupling risks penalizing China on many fronts. Tightening the troops is essential.
A reaction to particular articles that forget to consider Chinese history. The current authoritarian State has not come out of the hat of the modern government. A robust Chinese state has always tried to “frame” the economy and its actors. Some Western reactions can sometimes be explained by the lack of knowledge about the country and the difficulty of putting China in a box. Some see it as socialist, others as capitalist. Some texts brandish the specter of dictatorship. Why put China in a box? Let’s describe and look instead of hiding our view with our ideas or an ideology that replaces yesteryear’s catechism!