That is Easy – Easy Solution to Complicated Problems

I know this is a new addition of the series of articles comments on the recent government policy in China, which is treated a sensitive topics in China. Anyway, I do have something to say, although it may worth only 2 cents.

In an environment without check and balance, it is very common that people will choose the easiest way to solve complicated problems. Since there is no objection anyway, why bother looking for a better solution. Here are some examples.

One Child Policy

Too many people in the country and the population is too big?

Easy! Very couple only can have one child.

If it still does not work, maybe have none. The point is, I am not saying population is not a problem, but the current simple solution is at the cost of several generation’s freedom. Using education or social, economical, or other solutions to solve the problem takes time, and effort, and most important, wisdom (I don’t have a must-work solution), and the result maybe is not as good as current solution.

House Price Too Hight?

Easy! Just increase tax (doubled twice in the last year).

Still not working? Easy! No villa can be built (this policy was implemented last year).

Still not working? Easy! All developers cannot build large apartment. 90 sq. meters is the bar. Bigger house higher than this bar will be highly taxed, restricted, and 70% of the new house of any place must be 90 sq. meters or smallers. (I am not kidding here. These are the real policies issued this year).

Still not working? Still Easy! Ask the media to uniformly call those living in big houses as “bad guy”.

Still not working? Requires all the current developers to sell their house immediately after completion, and punish those who has completed house but don’t sell it. Now developers must sell the houses at the agenda set by the government but not market. (This policy came out last month).

Well. The basic logical problem here is, the government is controlling the high-price price of housing problem by reducing supply! Anyone knows little bit about marketing knows this is counter-effective. That is the reason the house price goes much faster after government reduces supply, wishing to cool it down.

Olympics is Coming but Too Many Cars!

Easy! Just ban half of the cars from going onto the road. Cars with odd plate numbers can only go out on odd days, and even numbers on even days. This really worked in Beijing since it is implemented from the last month. I suspect someone will say, “how about ban all private cars? That must be more effective to solve the traffic problem in Beijing”.


Someone likes dogs, and someone don’t. They argue and this is not harmony. This is very easy! Ban all dogs (some places kills all dogs), or charge ridiculously high price for a dog plate.

Death Toll in Guangdong’s Mine Factory?

Easy! Close all Mine Factories. Guangdong implemented last year, and it works great.

Group Renting

Group renting caused the environment of the residential area bad. Someone is complaining?

Easy! No-one without marriage can stay together, either same sex or opposite sex.

Air Security and Traffic Control is a Hard Problem to Solve

This is the most easiest one. No one in this country can fly their own private plane in the sky of his/her own country.

Is that Easy? Yes! Is it Efficient? Yes! But..

By listing all the problems and the easy answers government took to solve these problem, I am not complaining that we should not solve these problems. The problems like population, house price, transportation, victim of mines, dog issues, air security are all seriously problems that a government must solve. But the problem is whether the most effective way is the right way to do?

When I discuss these issues with my friends, they argue that “Are you saying that you keep the population going up, or you just do nothing when so many people dies in mines?” I don’t mean that, but be sure to consider some people’s interest although they are the minority in this society, and decision makers may think they “don’t represent the PEOPLE”. Think about the interest of those who want to have two children, who want to have a dog, who want to have a plane and fly, who want a cheap location to stay, who own a car and want to drive…

With the constrain of resources, there is always conflicts. To get rid of the other side of the conflict is so easy to implement, but I do doubt that will cause bigger and bigger problems in the future.

That’s easy? I don’t think it is easy.

21 thoughts on “That is Easy – Easy Solution to Complicated Problems

  1. I thought there always was a law that didn’t allow living together in one flat if you’re not married.

    At least I always heard that if you live together unmarried the neighbours can call the police if they don’t like you. I was a bit worried about that some time ago but nobody cares in foreigner compounds.

  2. I believe it is must easier for the government in China to address various problems because it can act with lightning fast speed to do so.

    If you can’t live together without being married, can you share the same hotel room for a week or several days?

  3. to Jian Shuo:

    i really want to know if you are the decision maker what will you do to solve these hot issues?

    just curious about your ideas :-)

  4. it seems to me that the government in China is coming up with all these quick easy fixes because it doesn’t believe the people are able to do so on their own. When a government doesn’t give its people a say-so in these matters, then it would logically follow that the people do not grow in responsibility.

    what’s the best fix for too many people? birth control, condoms, sex education and family planning classes

    air security and traffic control? better pilot training and higher standards to obtain a private pilot’s license to fly.

    too much air pollution created by cars? adopt and strictly enforce better emissions controls on all motor vehicles.

    group renting? if people really love one another, let them live together in peace and happiness even though they are not married (yet).

    house prices too high? allow the market to dictate what the prices should be.

    Dogs? Responsible pet owners should be encouraged and they should be fined if they allow their dog to roam at large and go poo on someone else’s property.

  5. According to the current situation in China,some policies don’t seem humanaly such as restrict the peasants to flood into the big cities,but it is a must before a better policy came up with.

    People often have a lot of desires,and the country will be in chaos if the GVM indulge all their desires.It is definitely tough for the GVM to balance all of they.

    That’s easy? Of course it is not easy.

  6. Coincidentally, we were talking about several of these interesting issues with a good friend just last night :-)

  7. Although they are officially published, I wonder how many of them are actually being implemented? Strictly?

    As a saying goes, most societies in China are still ruled by people but not the law. If that’s the case, the there are always way to change people. Thus, these so-called “regulations” can be changed depends on the way you want to change these people.

    “There is always a way!”. This is can’t be truer in China.

  8. jian shuo: it’s nice to see that you’re thinking outside of the box. too many chinese think along government lines (i don’t blame them with the thought control as it is in china…) and throw up excuses that often make no sense.

    i’m curious, would you attribute your ‘new thinking’ on these chinese issues to your exposure to the outside world?

    especially since you just went to america?

  9. @ericNo1

    Yes, it is a must, but for whom. Nothing is a must without the subject. It may be a must for you, me, and many other people. It can’t be a must for everybody. Have you asked the peasant workers? Do they think it a must? These kind of policies are always hurting the interests of certain people and benefiting the others, But in China they are all advertised as for the overall good of Chinese People. But there isn’t a thing called Chinese People. People have differences, conflicts. Policies always hurt SOME people.

    And yes again “People often have a lot of desires” and “It is definitely tough for the GVM to balance all of them”. Government should let people fight for their desires and government policies should be the result of the fighting. Chinese government is not balancing people’s desires, it is dictating them. It is dictating whose desire is good and therefore a MUST and should be satisfied, and whose desire is bad and is a MUST NOT and should be suppressed.

  10. The Government should be able to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of majority people. Therefore what ever policies they implement, it should benefit the majority of the people. There is no way you can pleased anybody. Good Government should always plan years ahead and not let any situation get out of control for example the traffic on the road.

    They should not allowed too many cars on the road in the first place by reducing car ownership. Can the road handle more cars and if not – what the Government should do and start to curb car ownership before the situation get out of control like what is happening now in Beijing. If curbing car ownership is not viable, then how about building more roads and highwway to ease the jams ? These are policies the Government should tackle early and not wait until last minutes and come up with very unpopular policies to suppress the people just to fix an hopeless short term situation.

    My two cents worth.


  11. I figure that all the Governments represent the interest of a certain group of people. What the Chinese Government do is to benefit the majority of the chinese people.”building more roads and highwway to ease the jams” maybe a good idea,but what if we don’t have much space to build them? Many policies are only for the current situation,and they won’t last long.Of course there still a lot of transforms the GVM should do.

  12. A Government should not represent anybody. It is only a tool with which people fight for their interests. If a government claims it represents certain people, it is doomed to be over throughn by the other people it does not represent.

    And people should not be devided as majority and minority and the minority is destiened to suffer. If what the government do is to benefit the majority then it shoudl kill 49% of the population and let the 51% enjoy all the resources left. It should then do it again and again until there is only 3 people left in the world and you can all guess what would happen to these 3 people.

  13. yeah, now these problems are very seriously and urgently!

    hope our government can make good rules as soon so quickly! most importantly, consider most poor people’s interests.

  14. yeah, now these problems are very seriously and urgently!

    hope our government can make good rules as soon so quickly! most importantly, consider most poor people’s interests.

  15. The CCP’s crew is always trying to solve problems attacking aggressively consequences of a problem without looking for its causes, simply jumping stupidly on any bandwagon they can find. Because causes are always similar and will always make them look nasty&bad, what they actually are.

    Chinese people understand that, CCP is out.

  16. I just read in the news today that China will take additional measures to crack down on families violating the one-child policy. I was wondering if you could write a blog on this issue. For example, how widespread the violatiion is in large cities such as Shanghai and what are the current fines. Also, do you know any colleagues or friends having more than one child and are people working for international companies such as microsoft more likely to have more than one? Thanks

  17. China’s economy is growing at a breathtaking pace, and has amassed forex reserves worth more than 1.5 trillion USD. Recent statistics have shown that the trade surplus in Jan 08 was 19.5bn USD, up 23% in USD terms on a yoy basis, but pls keep in mind that the RMB has appreciated against the dollar and hence, the surplus in real terms wasn’t that much higher than in Jan 07. Besides, the Jan 08 figures are below the Dec 07 figures of 22.7bn USD.

    I wonder why the Chinese government doesn’t increase government spending in an effective way to tackle its myriad problems. What are they doing instead with their excess piles of money? In the past, they invested it in low-yielding U.S. assets, and just recently, they sank a few billions of USD in their investment in Blackstone. Is there nothing better to do with the hoarded funds?

    I understand that the Chinese government wanted to cool down the economy, and therefore had to restrict its spending. But with almost all economists forecasting a slight decline in net exports (not only in USD terms due to RMB appreciation, but also in real terms) and in the face of a protracted downturn in developed countries, wouldn’t the government now be well-advised to consider using a portion of its reserves to develop China’s infrastructure, improve its education and healthcare system and so on and so forth? That – imho – would also require involving foreign companies, and thus drive the global economy. Or am I totally wrong on this?

  18. Update: Just had an interesting phone call with a Chinese pal on this issue.

    He asked me an interesting question: “If you were the Chinese president, and if you were really concerned about the problems of your country and your people, what would you do now? Remember, you’re in command of more than 1.5 trillion of USD equivalents.”

    I replied: “Hmm, hard to say. I’m not sure how the money could be used in the most effective way.”

    He said: “Well, that’s exactly the problem the Chinese government probably has. When it comes to making political decisions, their ignorance might be concealable through patriotic oratory. But look at the recruitment process for the CIC. The pretend to look for fund managers in the global job market. But so far, they’ve only hired plain Chinese. And you won’t see any foreign faces in the future either because they can’t trust foreigners. Even Chinese who were educated in the West are flawed from the CIC recruiters’ POV.”

    After this discussion, I believe that ignorance might really be a key issue. And since China would always opt for trust in their permanent trade-off between trust (= rejecting foreign engagement) and absorption of foreign know-how (= allowing foreign engagement), it will be hard to solve all these complicated problems. If Chinese politics really don’t know what’s the best to do now, and keep on refusing foreign aid, what would be outcome for China during the course of this decade?

  19. Thanks DB for the sharing. My current point of view is, why ask someone to spend 1.5 trillion USD, instead of giving the power of making decisions to the people in provinces, and cities?

    China is big, and has a tradition of powerful central government since Qin Dynasty. The government needs to be so strong and powerful, that keeps the whole country united, at the cost of democracy and economic development.

    I don’t think any one can make really reasonable decision on behalf of 1 billion people, so it does not make sense to ask a single person or a group of people in Beijing to make decision on behalf of people in places they have never been.

    There are something that demand national wide effort, but for most of the issues, it should be solved at local level.

    Currently, there are two weak local government, and a too strong central government in China.

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