Let me know if you can see my entire blog and comment on it, cuz i can’t.

I have been saving up my energy for this post because I am going to try and describe the inner working of a large state-owned enterprise chartered by the municipal government to promote Chengdu abroad. Even writing this last sentence has taxed my constitution.

What happens is, the state hands Company X a large sum of cash and the goal to promote Chengdu. This cash sits glowing in a safe. A large slice of management crouches before the safe, fingers steepled, plotting. The only way to actually access the money is to have a plan set before the eyes of the Party leadership, a small council of old men at the top who hold the chops. These chops hum in their cabinets. The managers can hear them deep below in the cavernous safe.

Assistants — young, pretty and energetic — find ways to implement the plots and plans of their managers, with an eye out for possible pocket-lining opportunities. Certain edicts from on-high filter down: We need exhibitions in Europe, We need Europeans to come here, We need people to come here and spend their money. These edicts are license to plot. A plotting framework.

When an idea is executed, the entire machine turns its focus, blurry and ponderous, upon the event and announces the appropriate things. Long term cooperation. Effusive, gracious thanks. Fervent hopes for mutual benefit. Determined march into the future together.

Managers and their teams of runners smile at each other as they elbow their way to the front, to be gazed upon by the machine. Acknowledged. Dinners and drinks.

The next manager appears. Focus is realigned.

The government has invested billions in the real estate industry. They buy land, sell it to developers, who build buildings and return it to a management company to sell to the people.

The people are not buying.

The state got the money from the banks, their children are in Canada studying. The developers got their money from the state, their kids are in Shanghai or Paris, spending. The rental management companies are buying TV spots and newspaper space. They are wringing their hands in worry. They turn to the state. The state turns to Company X, blurry eyes seeking solutions. Company X replies: Outsiders with money.

If no one buys, the rental management co’s default. If they default, the state defaults on their bank loan. The bank goes insolvent. The state steps into bail them out. Heads roll. Children abroad are left wondering what happened to their allowance. The people carry on, trying to ignore all of the lies.

my role in this is Idea Man. Good ideas go by the wayside here, as the mad grab for cash leaves the Idea spinning naked in the rain.

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Sascha Matuszak

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