Monthly Archives: August 2009

Goal Driven vs Discovery Driven Life

From time to time, I reflect what I am doing and can find a strong tendency of living a “discovery driven life” in myself.

Sometimes, after doing a lot of things very excitingly, I found out I didn’t have a goal at the very beginning. I tend to discover the dots first, and then find ways to connect these dots together afterward, instead of having a prediction, a projected line, and drive things along that line and reach the goal. In MBTI analysis, it is a typical difference of P type of people and J type of people. Me as an ENFP tends to do things like that.

The reason I love the MBTI theory is, it helps people to understand the motivation of themselves, and the style of doing things, and how to intentionally develop the other side of the personality to be a better person.

For me, as an example, to develop the goal setting, and to focus on that goal for a given time period is something I need to train myself.

Shanghai for Disabled

I am a part-time disabled person now. I use crutches whenever I go. Let me report my two weeks of experience as a disabled in Shanghai.

Wheel Chair? No. Thanks

I did get a 300 RMB nice wheel chair but I only used it outside my home for once. It turned out that Shanghai is not a good place to use wheel chair. There are slops at the pedestrian at cross road, but it seems no one ever tested it. The gap (about half cm) is just too big for a wheelchair to pass. Wendy pushes the wheelchair to get me up to the pedestrian, but got stuck there. If she pushes harder, I will fall out from the front since it is stuck anyway. The only solution is for me to leave the wheelchair, jump aside, helped me to pull the wheelchair up, and get to the pedestrian, and then sit down. After several places like this, I gave up wheelchair.

Stairs

There are many places with lots of stairs, especially in restaurants. Once when I was shown of 20+ straight stairs to the second floor, my jaw dropped – just like the Panda in Kungfu Panda saw the stairs to the temple. I said: Thanks but no.

Crossing the Street

Crossing the street is so exciting! With cars horn and other people running as fast as rabbit, you quickly found out you are the only person left on the pedestrian, and the green light is almost over. The cars are like the race cars at the starting point – the engine is ready, and just wait for a green light! Well. I admit that I feel this type of tension only in Hollywood movie. Poor Jian Shuo!

Few Disabled on the Street!

I know the real reason why there are very few disabled in public space in Shanghai (and in China). The city is not designed for disabled (at least not for people losing a leg, no to mention people who cannot see). The only disabled people you see are very likely to be beggar – although some uses a crutch just to pretend to be disabled.

Yifan and Cars

Yifan is a big fan of cars. He loves all kinds of cars – the real car running on the streets, his toy cars (he has a lot) or cars on TV, magazines. He especially loves red car. He knows the cars by brand and can tell you the brand all the time. His favorite so far is Audi, followed by Mazda.

He loves everything related to car. He washes his car all the time, and leaving the table a mass with water.

He loves parking garage, and he especially loves the pole at the entrance of parking lots. He loves to treat our legs as parking lot, and repeat the following conversation 20 times a day:

Yifan: Parking pole!

Dad: You need to pay.

Yifan: seeking out to his pocket and put “air” into your hand Here you are.

Dad: How much is it?

Yifan: 100 Yuan.

Dad: Not enough.

Yifan: Price rise?

Dad: Yes.

Yifan: Too expensive.

Dad: No pay, no entrance.

Yifan: putting another piece of air into the hand This is 100 yuan.

Dad: OK. You can go.

Yifan: Hahaha. The car is coming in!

Then he drives his car around the table and get stopped by the Parking Pole again. “Parking Pole!” the whole story happens again.

Sometimes when I ask for more than 200 yuan, he would turn to his mom to lend some money.

Yifan now is just like a small boy now, and can have meaningful conversation for a long time. He is happier than before since he found we started to understand what he wants, because he can say that!

Cute boy.

IBM vs Dell Laptop

When we read about books about several years of transition of competition, we take it for granted that some brands can quickly take over the other brand, but in reality, since that happens slowly, we are also slow to recognize the shift. IBM laptop vs Dell laptop is an example.

Previous Perception of Quality and Service

I always consider Dell as the brand of “bad quality + good service”. The image was there since I started to use Dell desktop and laptop in 1998 in Microsoft. Dell’s computer parts break easily, but they offer second day on site service, and they are happy to exchange any part in their service period. I especially love their “service tag” design.

On the contrary, IBM’s ThinkPad series is of so good quality. I switched to IBM many years after I used Dell, and started to understand why so many people insist in buying IBM ThinkPad over Dell, even when it is much more expensive. It just gives people the feeling of safety – never breaks, and works as solid as stone. However, IBM’s service is so bad – I never saw an IBM service people, but I even know some Dell guy by name and face.

What about Now?

Today, the IBM ThinkPad quality goes down dramatically. I feel it is even worse than Dell. Meanwhile, Dell’s E-series gets better and better reputation. I heard about many good things about it (just as I heard about good things about Windows 7).

Now the competition becomes:

ThinkPad = Bad Quality + Bad Service

Dell = Good Quality + Good Service

Dell is also relatively cheaper than ThinkPad.

I won’t hesitate to bet on the result.

IBM vs Lenovo?

To correct what I wrote, ThinkPad is no longer IBM ThinkPad. It is Lenovo ThinkPad.

Always Not Good Enough

Or the topic can be “Always Stay Humble”.

The best time I feel focused, and archived is when I was in middle school. Let me share the story that I have never shared in the last 17 years with you today. That was triggered by another great book I read many times Good to Great.

The Middle School

The best school I entered in my life is my middle school – much better experience than the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The middle school has as long history as my university – the Luoyang No 1 Middle School.

That school is the best school in the city. Why? Because they way their students are chosen is very simple: at the middle school entrance exam, the top 352 students across the whole city (with 6 million population) are admitted into the school, and other schools choose the rest. It is a simple order by score from highest to lower.

I didn’t perform well in the middle school entrance exam (Seems an excuse. The result may have reflected where I were), and I was around the #352-360 range – one point lower than the entrance line. I should have not been able to enter that school, but they finally offered 10 more students in addition to their original plan. That is how I ended up appearing on that campus.

“Everyone else is Better than Me”

Imagine what it is like to clearly know that you are not as talented as everyone in this school! It is not you force yourself to believe so, it is that you firmly believed it from bottom of your heart! “Everyone is so talented, and much better than me!” This was my belief.

With that belief, life is actually much easier for me. Since you are at the rear of the line, the only possible thing to happen to you is to become better. I played hard and studied hard. Although sometimes my classmates asked me silly questions about homework, I just feel that everyone has some weak points, and I may have more.

The good (or bad) thing for a Chinese middle school is, they have mid-term exam, and the result of everyone’s score is public data – just like a NASDAQ system. The first mid-term exam came. It turned out I ranked 27th in the school (6 in my class? I forget. There are 8 classes in my grade).

Very exciting. It is the first night in my life I couldn’t fall asleep.

The Second Acceleration

I was stuck in the rank 15th – 30th range for grade one and two. When the Final Exam (College Entrance Exam) got nearer (one year away), I felt another round of acceleration. It was based on another belief that I didn’t really need to care how good the people around me were; I only needed to care what I can archive. In today’s view, it is called “a bigger goal than getting into top 15 of the school”. That, fortunately, worked very well for me.

In the last three simulation exam, I got better and better in position. Finally, I believed I took 4th place of the whole city. The guy before me was the #1 in the half million students in that exam in Henan Province that year. To make me look a little bit closer, I took the first place in one single course in the province. (Just FYI, Wendy did extremely well in the mathematics in the same exam, scoring 147 out of 150).

Lesson Learnt

There is no positive co-relation between middle school score in exams and further achievement. But what I learnt from that particular experienced helped me in the future, especially when I fell too good about myself.

To genuinely believe everyone around you is better than you, and to always feel that you are far from what you want to archive, made a huge positive difference in my middle school age.

Steve Jobs said “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish” to Stanford students. He said it in a humble way. Humbleness ignites hard work, and unlimited power.

So always stay humble, and you are always not good enough.

Whole Society is the Biggest Network Effect

I chatted with Doug on this the other day about the difference between people in China and US. I have written on this topic in many articles:

Why People don’t Use Voice Mail in China

Do You Have a Calendar?

Why Classified is NOT Popular in China, Yet

The Slow Move

You will find that people in US seem to move slower than people in China in all of the cases, just because most of the things are new to Chinese, and people in China can directly by pass voice mail and get to mobile era, by pass calendar and directly do real time planning (via IM and mobile), and no possibility for newspaper based classified in China forever.

The problem then will be, why it is slower to move in a more established market like in US?

My answer is about network effect.

In eBay’s case, in the cases of many SNS site, and in the case of telephone company, we are using the term “network effect” to describe the fact that by adding another point in the network, the whole network get more useful than before the addition.

In the voice mail case, since most of the people are already using voice mail, it is so hard for people to change the behavior to switch to mobile over night, since the voice mail network is so big and so useful to abandon. Think about fax machine! What is the point to print out a document and fax it and throw the paper away? The reason is, so many people are still using it and making the fax technology – the fax protocol still attractive.

When to do the Shift?

When the network effect there, change in a few of the users won’t impact the network. 10% of people don’t use fax machine actually does not take big impact to the whole network.

BUT, one thing can change it. That is some big social movement that changes everyone’s behavior at the same time. Let me give two examples.

1. The earthquake in Taiwan in 2007 that cut the cable between US and China. The week of pause of any service from US actually changed the nature of many Internet business in China – just because people (100%) are switch at the SAME time.

2. Another example is SARS. Since everyone choose to stay at home during May holiday in 2003 at the SAME time, online shopping site Taobao got its best push since a big social event like SARS not only changed the behavior of part of the network, it almost changed everyone, so changed the whole network effect.

The Biggest Network

In that sense, the whole society can be treated as the biggest network effect business. A shift is very slow, and takes long time to happen. The only way to change it is big social events like cut-off of Internet for several days (like the earthquake), or SARS. The recent Sichuan Earthquake, and H1N1 Flu are very likely those pushy event, but we don’t know the impact yet.

Craziness of Real Estate Market

Well. It’s me again, to complain about the craziness of the real estate market in Shanghai. I have talked about it many times in my previous post about real estate.

Let’s talk abut the recent round of rise of real estate market.

There is a new residential area called Xing He Wan 星河湾 near where I live – in Pudong, at Jinxiu Road and Long Yang road – within walking distance. They just opened to the market at 50,000 RMB/sq. meter. The market responded like crazy, and all the apartments were sold out in the first 3 days. That means 10 million to 20 million RMB (or 1.5 million to 3 million USD) per apartment there.

The rise of price in high end real estate showed, in my opinion, the expectation for inflation of RMB. Not only in Pudong, high end houses in Pudong get 50% raise in many places. 80,000 RMB/sq meter is the new high end house record, like the Kerry Garden near Huashan Rd, and Jiangsu Rd.

The other reason for the strong growth in housing market these days is about the lose of control of bank mortgage. It has never been easier to get loan from bank in the recent months.

Meanwhile, the real estate market for business seems to enter winter. The interesting contrast of summer in high-end house, and winter of office buildings are telling a solid story for me: it is a bad sign for the economy.

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not an expert in real estate. Don’t count on someone who never really looked into it to tell you any insights about this market. The only advantage I get is, I actually live in this city, and can hear some gossip, and news about the market.

Just FYI. I never opened a stock exchange market in the crazy Chinese stock market in the last few years. So you know how lazy/stupid/insensitive I am to the money market. Hope this additional disclaimer helps if you still think you should believe in what I tell you. — the other stronger way to say: I am not responsible for any investment made because of this article.

Talked with Friend about Money

Spent the morning, noon, and part of the afternoon with Wendy and my good friend. We talked a lot in a corner of Starbucks, and then moved to a quiet restaurant at Zhongshan Park area. Here are some of the points mentioned.

About Wealth. He is in the stage that wealth is not a problem. People don’t need to have too much money to sustain a good life. 1 million RMB per year maybe the top range for any moderate successful people to spend – excluding people who put an equal sign between money spent and their value to this world. I would tend to agree.

On practice in stock market and real estate market. He treated everything as a mathematic model. Money is just a side effect. On the market, everything he does is to practice self-discipline – it needs a lot of courage and discipline to say no to many attractive, but not disciplined opportunities. By saying no many times, the self-discipline gets better and better.

Many other good stuff. Nice time. As Bob mentioned in his twitter, it is not time together, it is “qualified time” together.

PS. It is a good principle to always consult someone with experience. Everyone’s life and experience are limited. Talking is a way to connect your brain with others’ and to get experience they had. To build a network of great people to consult is great wealth.

Reading Books – Built to Last

I don’t remember this is how many times that I read the book Built to Last. The first time I read it was still in the old Microsoft days. The last time I read it was among the time I was in deep passion for Fengshui, and these days, Xiaoliang falls in love with this book, thus I read this book again.

Interestingly. The book itself didn’t change, but the inspiration you got from it changed a lot. For a lot of things, if you are not in the position to think about it, you don’t understand it at all.

My learning is: for good book, read it again and again is better than reading many so-so book. (Well, keep reading is just to find out great books out of so-so books).

Full Content on Home Page of my Blog?

I am thinking about putting the full content of the last 20 articles onto the homepage of my blog, just as most of blogs. The goal is to help people to glance at what is the recent articles on this blog without clicking into each article. Is it a good idea? I know for many, it does not matter since they read through RSS. I have full content delivered via RSS anyway.

Good Morning, Shanghai

Another early morning. Good morning, Shanghai. Or good afternoon San Francisco, and good night, New York. Ops. For London, I’d rather don’t say anything since it is late night and people are sleeping.

Just finished another conference call, as one of the hundreds of conference calls I had. I found it interesting to have conference calls – for people from around the world, having different time zone, and different places to talk simultaneously over the thick line of phone. Well. I should not have been amazed by the telephone technology in this Internet era, but when you really think about it, this is quite amazing.

A time zone does change a lot of thing. Do you have the feeling that although you are talking someone in another time zone, you feel you share many context in common, you still feel something strange. For example, you cannot great the other party the way you great people around you (physically around you), and you can sense a feel of sleepiness when it is early morning (like myself), or the energy in someone else after completing one day’s of work (like in San Francisco), and at the same time, you can imagine what a beautiful night and the scene out of the window of the office building in New York – sweet night in a great city! To mix these different background together in a small telephone line is interesting experience.

Address of a place sometimes acts as subtle indication. Yesterday, when I trying to write down the address of a place, I smiled:

1 Wall Street, New York, USA

It is the Bank of New York.

What that address tells you in a subtle way? It echoes exactly what the conference call and timezone reflects.

What if Someone Cut my Tree?

I was asked the question in a family gather in the States on July 4 about “what happens if your neighbor gets to your garden and cut your tree?” I answered: “I will jump to their garden and cut their trees, and if I can break their window, that is even better”.

I was kidding, but the bitter reality in China today is, that is maybe the only solution left.

Legal System

Legal system is designed to protect the common people, but not so true in practice. As I said, I never sued someone in my life, and wasn’t sued, because suing is not that useful, in practice. People solve problems by themselves (some times violently).

My colleague A encountered something similar. Two guys got into our company violently on one weekend. They threatened to destroy the computers, and office equipment. At the emergency, my colleague had to defense and pushed them out of the office by violence – someone got hurt. My colleague then immediately called 110 and the police came.

The police educated A that he should not have done it. When asked what he should do when two strangers get into the office and when there is only one person inside, this is what the police suggested:

You should not force them to leave, even when they are in your office. If they threaten to destroy something, you should let them destroy it. This way they break the law, and then you can call us. But before they destroy anything or beat you, you should NOT do anything.

Although we have all the CCAV record of what happened (how they broke in, and what happened), the police insisted that A pay 500 RMB for the damage he made to the two strangers. After several hours of wasting time, A finally paid the money and get the thing settled.

This is very common. I personally encounter stuff like this many time. The typical thing policemen will tell you is: “Do you want to spend endless time and effort to sue them? The court cannot solve the problem.” or “for small things like this, no court will handle it. Take it easy and let it be.” I recorded one of the even 5 years ago: Goudaner Scratched by Drunk Driver. My car was scratched badly by a drunk driver, and police came, and the driver/passengers left the car. The policeman came and said he could do nothing. I called to complain and I was told that if I insist, I can bring witness to their office to record it. Well. There is no chance for a file to the court without their written confirmation…

So, many years of social experience tend to teach people to protect themselves by themselves. That is maybe the reason many people (I mean my friends!) believed that violence is always a better choice.

BTW, any reader has any experience to sue someone on the court when the damage is less than 100K USD? What was the experience and how it worked out? (Well. Even if the court find the other party is guilty, there is few ways to enforce it.)

Legally Speaking…

When I encounter with the security guard in my residential area, I felt more confident than having the same conflict with the security guard in my office building. Why? Because I know in the first case, I am the owner of the property, but in the second case, I am just a leaser, not an owner. You see the difference? As a leaser, I only have the option to complain to the owner of the building, and if they refuse to take their right to do something with the property management company, my only choice is economical – move out. But if I own something, the right is more political – I have the *right*.

However, to think it deeper, even my own house, I don’t own it. I LEASED it from the country. I am a leaser of my own house. For many people who don’t have their residence permit (several million people live in Shanghai without that resident permit), they can only get a TEMP permit for living in Shanghai. In this case, they don’t have the right too – they are just visitors to this city, no matter how long they live here – 10 years? 20 years? and their children don’t have the residence status of this city. (Refer to this Hukou article).

In both situation, legally speaking, you don’t have any right. You have the right to complain to the landlord of your house, or complain to the city that you are visiting, but that is suggestion based right, not a legal binding right.

In that sense, we are all *leasers* or guest in this country, even after paying one million USD to get an apartment in Shanghai – the apartment still belongs to the government, and you just get a lease contract of 60 years.

The Hope

There is still hope though. Now we do have a legal system. Although it does not work as well as it was designed, but it is improving. More and more people turn to the legal system for justice, instead of violence.

Zhiyong is one typical example of it, although he himself was officially arrested the other day. He was accused for tax evasion. According to tax law, he is free of penalty if the company pays the tax and fine in full (the tax evasion is about a pending charity donation from Yale University for doing research.)

Many people from around the country donated to pay the 1.42 million RMB fine ticket (well. Think about it. People donate to pay the fine by government!), but the tax department rejected the money because the Legal Representitive of the company, Zhiyong, is not able to go to their office to sign the document. Zhiyong cannot go because he is arrested. He is arrested because he wouldn’t pay the fine. He wouldn’t pay the fine because he is arrested… the loop is intentionally kept there. In that logic, the only way for Zhiyong to solve the infinite loop is to complete his 7 years in jail, and then go to the tax office to pay the fine. At that time, I believe the penalty of delaying the fine (3% per day) would be 100 million.

However, I still keep the hope that as long as there is still a place to talk about the legal system. Just like the dead loop here – it is still legal term and legal process any way. There must be a way out as long as it is still legal talk. In this sense, the country has improved.

Keep the hope.

Values, Profit and Backgrounds

Recently read an article of Jeremy about What is the difference between a good product and a good company?.

I like the way it describes the two different company. Below is my extension of the idea, not necessarily what Jeremy wrote in his blog.

  • A company that create value but cannot make profit.
  • A company that create profit that does not provide value

The interesting type is the second type of company. One class is arbitrage. In China, there are so many arbitrage opportunities with fast development of everything, and there is opportunity everywhere. If you want, you can capture that opportunity easily. However, there is a nature end of life for these projects when the arbitrage opportunity closes.

This echoes to what on the page 64 of Guy Kawasaki’s book Reality Check.

What is your background?

  • Engineering (add 5 points)
  • Sales (add 5 points)
  • Management Consultant (subtracts 5 points)
  • Investment Banker (subtracts 5 points)
  • Accounting (subtracts 5 points)
  • MBA (subtracts 5 points)

Engineers often tend to build value but cannot realize its value.

Sales can always see arbitrage opportunity but often fail to create value.

They may end up with the two different type of companies. The idea case is a company that can get profit by creating value.

Guy Kawasaki is absolutely about the view of a management consultant (Jack Welch’s word: good at giving options but hard to make decisions), investment banking (build the company for wall street, not customers), and accountant. I don’t like MBA either (my discussion about MBA).

Google Translate for Blog Articles

This entry is at request of my friend Jackie. He found there is translation of many of my articles on my blog: Franch, Chinese, German… He understood it is translated using Google Translate API, but don’t know how to do it exactly. Here is the trick (sorry for posting for too late).

Below is the script behind the scene. I am away from code for many years. The last time I touched PHP code was in 2007 (ops. The last time I touched ASP, or .NET code was in 2004).

<?php

function file_get_contents_curl($url) {

   $ch = curl_init();

   curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 0);

   curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);

   //Set curl to return the data instead of printing it to the browser.

   curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $url);                  $data = curl_exec($ch);

   curl_close($ch);

   return $data;

}

                              

function translate_term($term, $fromlang, $tolang) {

   $apistr = “http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/services/language/translate?v=1.0&langpair=$fromlang%7C$tolang&q=” . urlencode($term);

   $dest = file_get_contents_curl($apistr);

   $json = json_decode($dest);

   return $json->responseData->translatedText;

}

function translate($src, $fromlang, $tolang) {

   $lines = split(“<br \/>”, $src);

   $rlines = array();

   foreach($lines as $line) {

      $terms = split(“\. “, $line);

      $rterms = array();

      foreach($terms as $term)

         $rterms[] = translate_term($term, $fromlang, $tolang);

      $rlines[] = implode(“. “, $rterms);

   }

   return implode(“<br />”, $rlines);

}

   

function get_body($url)   {

   $html = file_get_contents($url);

   if(preg_match(“/(<title>.*<\/title>).*<p><p>(.*)<\/p><\/p>/smi”, $html, $matches))

      return $matches[1] . $matches[2];

   return “”;

}

?>

The code above is very easy to read. Basically, the idea is to break long sentences into small chunks that Google Translator (AJAX version) can handle, and then implode them back. This is a workaround but so far I haven’t seen significant problems.

How to use it?

The function translate() can translate whatever length of text from one language, to another. A typical call would be like:

echo(translate(get_body(“../archives/$file”), “en”, $lang));

Good luck, Jackie!

B for Parking Garage

Yifan surrounded me the whole morning. He got curious about my laptop, and tried to reach out to touch the keys. He particularly love the key of B. He presses B hundreds of times, and keeps saying: “Parking Garage! Parking Garage”.

I thought it is just another random word popping out of his mouth. 10 minutes later, he explained it very serious me: “On the Elevator! On the Elevator!”

Then I realized he did realize the character B, since the parking garage is marked as B in my elevator.

The logic of kids are different from adults, and most of the time, they are right.

A Tale of Threee Cities

After posting my blog entry of Jian Shuo Wang on Channel Young, I stumbled upon the online video of the program on SMGBB. Share with my friends. If you participated in my blog meetup on August 30, 2008, you should be able to find yourself in the video.

Hmm… Look at how much spare time I have when my foot was broken. I didn’t have too much time to post it online. I remember I promised people during the meetup that I will try to post the video if I can find it one day.

Update about my Foot

This is the third day since my foot was wrapped gypsum and bandage. I have stayed at home for three days. Hopefully, I can get back to office Monday noon to have my regular lunch meeting, and the regular dinner with the team. There is actually not many things I can do except keeping my foot away from any additional shock.

Wheelchair

Wendy got a wheelchair on Baixing (link) at 300 RMB. Nice wheel chair but Shanghai is not a good place to use it.

Before dinner, we test-ran the wheelchair at the pedestrian. Terrible experience. The edge of the pedestrian and the road is still not well connected (I mean the slope designed to make wheelchair go on and off pedestrian easier), so I am always stuck there, with bikes and cars running to behind me.

Walking Stick

It seems the walking sticks I got from my team work much better. I believe I am the third person breaking the foot in recent years, so we share the same pair of walking stick. That is more nimble than wheelchair. I am thinking about selling out my wheelchair at 300 RMB again on Baixing.com. That is the beauty of second-hand trading – price does not drop when you buy and sell second-hand stuff.

Four Weeks

There are still four to six weeks to go before I get my foot out of the gypsum and bandage. Hmm…. Let me continue to report the life of a disabled person in Shanghai.

The Significance of Xu Zhiyong’s Case

After talking about the significance about Xu Zhiyong’s work in the series The Significance of Xu Zhiyong, we need to go further to understand what the cracking down and detaining of Zhiyong means to the Chinese society.

It is a Clear NO

Despite of the high visibility and all activities under the current legal framework of Zhiyong, the organization (or the company) was shut down, and Zhiyong was detained by the police. It is a clear no to people who want to improve the society in a “under the Sun” type of activity, and may force such organizations to go underground. Underground organizations can easily result in violence. That is even more harmful.

Zhiyong’s work has a solid ground of performing everything publicly, and makes everything visible to the society. It is not a underground organization. They actually didn’t take any political sensitive cases. Most of the cases they took were purely civil cases, like to assist parents in the poison milk incident to get more compensation, and to assist Deng Yujiao who were nearly raped by local government officials and defended herself and killed the guy, and then accused for murder. All these cases are not politically sensitive. It is just as many of the lawyers did – to provide legal assistance to people. (Well. I am also convinced that lawyers are not working for justice – just to provide legal assistance)

P.S. I edited the content of the article after it is published.

NGO as a Company in China

I know many NGO organization, and I am personally involved in some. It is hard to get registered with the Internal Affairs Bureau. I tried to setup Coffee Bean Club to help students to get access to successful people, but it was not possible to register, so my choice, and many other NGO’s choice was to stay unregistered.

Unregistered Organizations

To have many organizations unregistered is not a good thing for all the parties. For the founders of the organization, since it is not legally recognized, it is very vulnerable, not just to the government inspection, but to all type of criminals. For example, they have to use personal account to keep organization money ($#%#!), and they cannot legally hire people, and they cannot do anything outside the power of several individuals. For volunteer organizations, it may be OK, but there is no growth. For the government, it is not good since they cannot provide services, and cannot take their duty to make sure everything is fine. For others the organization is interacting with, it is the same to deal with a gangster organization – no legal protection.

The line between good people doing good stuff (unregistered NGO) and bad people doing bad things (like criminal groups) is blurred.

Registered Organization

Since the road for unregistered organization is hard, many people just register as a company – a for profit company. This is actually the only workaround I can think of. In practices, I know many of my friends doing good things using a company. There is a small issue of registering as a company – every dollar coming into the company is subject to 5% of tax, and subject to income tax. Well. It does not bother most of people since this is the only choice. They pay tax!

NGO as a Company

Gongmeng’s situation is like many NGOs in China, although more NGO is not registered at all.

In the Gongmeng’s case, the tax authority accuses Gongmeng for tax evasion for a donation not confirmed by Yale University. This is the typical risk NGO as a company faces. In theory, most of the organizations involved in Sichuan earthquake the last year are vulnerable to this claim. If the any of the government officials want, they can legally investigate and punish the organizations involved in the Sichuan help. As far as I know, most of the organizations just transfer the money directly to the people who needed help. If they got 100 RMB, they gave out 100 RMB. “Hey guys! You didn’t pay the tax!” I don’t know a policy to give tax free status to NGO so far (correct me if I am wrong).