菜單 取消

Author: Callum (高林)

澳不能再像盲人一样跟从“大国”

专有里约奥运会直播版权的澳洲国家电台(Channel 7)在奥运会开幕式直播中只给了中国代表团2-3秒时间,中间插播15秒广告。这家电视台还把金牌榜上的中国国旗误为智利国旗,被网友拍到并在社交媒体上传播。

中澳关系近来处于一个非常尴尬的阶段。与中国签约自由贸易协定不到一年的澳大利亚,享有来自中国的多方面支持,无论是在贸易、旅游还是其他方面,中澳关系已经达到互利互惠的友好程度。但正在此时,澳大利亚率先表态支持所谓南海仲裁结果,澳大利亚媒体对《环球时报》的“纸猫”批评反应强烈,Channel 7所为此时被中国网友解读为澳大利亚媒体“反华”的表现,当然无可厚非。

在南海问题上,澳大利亚有必要为了所谓的政治利益与中国“闹翻”吗?澳大利亚政府态度背后的利益考量不言而喻。然而,南海纠纷是当事国间的问题,自然由当事国通过协商和平解决。澳大利亚前外交部长鲍勃·卡尔曾多次强调,澳不应随时和美日立场保持一致,澳要警惕沦为美国在亚太地区的“副警长”。但由于各种偏见和误导,这样理性的声音在澳国内喑哑了。

在社会层面,中澳两国间近期的一系列矛盾更多源于误解。在澳大利亚媒体的误导下,澳民众对中国的认识既有价值观上的误解,也有对事实的误读。我想问:在澳大利亚,有多少人连自己的总理是不是投票直选都不清楚就去评判国际事件?有多少人以为临时仲裁庭的所谓判决是由联合国作出的“公正”决定?

当下的澳大利亚国内,种族主义正在抬头。这种低俗文化的传递者,往往是下层白人,他们通过低级而无知的排外言论表达自己对社会和自我的不满。随着中国的崛起,令这些人感到所谓的“中国危机”。中国人有钱,来澳大利亚投资炒房,有些澳大利亚人买不起就“不爽”;中国人有知识和技术,以自由贸易协定所规定的457签证身份来澳大利亚工作,有些人怕饭碗没了就慌;中国经济发展太快了,有些人看不惯。

澳大利亚是个多元文化融合和高度开放的社会,目前有80多万华人在此定居,接近人口总数的4.0%。别看华人比例小,这个群体做事情通常是“一窝蜂”,联袂而至。澳大利亚人对华人的不满和调侃确有,但绝不存在对华人群体的历史性偏见。作为一家独立媒体公司,Channel 7不代表国家政府,也不代表澳洲大众,它的命运最终将由市场决定。

在经济上,中澳两国一直是好伙伴,即便澳大利亚媒体的涉华报道浮躁、炒作、偏激,中澳关系仍一如既往。悉尼机场外贴着全中文的交通银行、国窖等广告牌,在澳中国留学生日益增长,还有越来越多的澳洲人重视学汉语。作为伙伴,澳大利亚不能再把中澳关系视为简单的经济利益问题,也不能再像盲人一样跟从某个过时国际秩序中的“大国”。无论是在政治还是民间层面,澳大利亚都需要更进一步了解中国,换位思考,做中国的“好读者”。(作者是澳大利亚国立大学学者)

原创栏目

版权作品,未经环球网Huanqiu.com书面授权,严禁转载,违者将被追究法律责任。 责编:【澳】高林


源自环球时报:http://w.huanqiu.com/r/MV8wXzkyNzY1MDZfMzcxXzE0NzA1OTE0MjA=

特恩布尔的一票否决:陆克文“不合适参选联合国秘书长”背后的利益考量

近日,澳大利亚前总理、前工党领袖陆克文参选联合国秘书长的计划遭到否决。此前有报道称,由于内阁投票未能通过,决定权被交到了现任总理、自由党领导人特恩布尔的手上,并最终被其否决。理由为“鉴于陆克文在任期间的领导权威性问题上,不符合联合国秘书长一职的要求……因而本届政府认为陆克文不合适参选“。

虽然老陆自身问题确实不少,但这在事实上并未妨碍其有机会参选联合国秘书长一职,如若能幸运当选,这对于提升澳大利亚在国际社会的影响力,以及国家形象无疑是非常有益的。但特恩布尔的否决则让陆克文连去竞争的机会都没有了。因而,决定一出,便遭到了工党一众政客的抨击。在他们看来特恩布尔为了自由党的利益,选择损公肥私,使得澳大利亚失去联合国成立70年以来首次荐举一名可敬的澳大利亚公民为候选人的机会。

可特恩布尔究竟是因为什么利益而选择“砌墙”阻挡老陆呢?

抛开特恩布尔给出的冠冕堂皇的借口,直接的原因其实很简单:对于特恩布尔来说,若支持陆克文,他必定会失去党内威信;而若不支持,则会被认为党同伐异。后者很好理解,他此刻面临的正是这样的“控诉”,但前者该如何理解呢?

这就涉及到自由党内部的“分化问题”了。虽然在上周四的内阁商讨中,支持推荐一方的内阁议员与反对方的比例为11:10,换句话就是,特恩布尔党内都有百分之五十以上的议员支持陆克文参选,但特恩布尔却无法选择顺水推舟,依据“多数表决的基本民主原则”去同意老陆参选。因为自由党内的极右派才是惹不起的主。

身为中立派政客的特恩布尔,一直以来并不受党内极右派的待见。再加上本次大选中,自由党在议会只获得比工党多一席这样差强人意的结果,这就让特恩布尔非常担忧有朝一日会步陆克文、吉拉德及艾伯特的后尘,遭遇党内投票替换的悲剧。残酷的现实逼迫特恩布尔必须回应党内极右派反对陆克文出选的声音,只有这样他才能够安抚以公开批评联合国而闻名的保守议员博纳迪为代表的极右派,逐步强化自身在党内的威信。

当然,这个选择就意味着他将违背“多数表决的基本民主原则”和面临“党同伐异”的批评。可这对于特恩布尔来说,压力远不及惹怒极右派来得大。毕竟,以外长毕晓普为代表的中立派并非极端派,会理性、合理地对待任何结果,而毕晓普本人还是特恩布尔最亲近的盟友,具有相对稳定的关系,不会贪小失大去策动党内变革。至于工党,反正基本上特恩布尔的多数决定都会遇到来自工党的批评,倒也不差这一回了。

简而言之,特恩布尔不顾国家荣誉,坚决否决陆克文参选联合国秘书长,并非因为什么“陆克文违背国家利益”,不过是自由党内政治博弈的考量。但此举也暗示了特恩布尔不仅仅在议会上面临着僵局,在自由党党内也面临着分裂局面,这个分裂甚至已经使得其不得不尽可能地服从极右派的意愿。可在这种岌岌可危的政治现实下,特恩布尔在无底线的让步中,真的能够避免如陆克文、吉拉德和艾伯特那样的闹剧式的政治斗争吗?

—— 高林,澳大利亚国立大学中国问题研究者

原创栏目

版权作品,未经环球网Huanqiu.com书面授权,严禁转载,违者将被追究法律责任。 责编:高林


源自环球时报:http://m.huanqiu.com/r/MV8wXzkyNzMwMTBfMzcxXzE0NzAzOTczODA=


 

我们是否在经历民主的衰败?

脱欧、特朗普:民主的衰败?

毛主席曾经说过:天下大乱,形势大好。近期,英国出乎意料地选择脱欧、自食其言的失败企业家特朗普正式任命为共和党的候选人、澳大利亚总理换来换去最终政坛沦为僵局等一系列不理性而混乱的事件,似乎演变成一场全球性的无序状态。理论上,民主国家执行的政策是大众以投票的形式表达的意愿。但是,当大众内心的愤怒导致他们做出不理性而对自己和国家都不利的选择,民主便会导致国家陷入困境。身为澳大利亚公民的笔者以澳大利亚政坛为例在此拙作中简单分析现代民主中的误读和缺陷。

爱国者抑或是自虐狂?

“脱欧”是英国右翼派自1973加入欧盟后的长年目标。原本被专家认为是千载难逢之蠢事2016年六月底竟然以微弱优势,对反对派攻其不备获胜。由于英国投票并非强制性,本次参与投票的公民人数接近总人口的72.2%,以51.9:48.1的比例通过了该公民公决政策。英镑大跌、总理卡梅伦辞职、苏格兰宣布要”脱英加欧“、欧洲多名极右派政客掌声雷动,意味着脱欧引起连锁反应的可能较大。全世界拭目以待,期待本次咄咄怪事究竟引起什么样的结果,同时也束手无策,想不通这个结果到底对英国人有什么好处。英国似乎陷入了黑白不分的动荡局势,在经济、政治上达成了巨大的负面效果。耐人寻味的是,事后英媒体报道谷歌搜索引擎上最热门的话题是“欧盟是什么”。

英国二战时期在任总理温斯顿·丘吉尔说得好:和普通选民进行短暂五分钟的交谈,民主中存在的问题就不言而喻。

政客:民主的操纵者?

古希腊思想家普拉图和苏格拉底曾经在对话中谈到政治体制的演变。普拉图认为,专制统治大概是民主发展到一定程度的必然成果。民主最本质的理念是自由,而所谓的自由是指颠倒原有的阻拦和拘束,把权力从夺权群体的手上让给公民。理论上,这种体制是相对公开的,也是相对公平的,以投票形式得到的结果大概是大众意愿的缩影。但是,民主并非完好无缺。当一个国家最高领导层面颠三倒四,且国家自由到一定的程度,这种体制会展示本质上的缺陷。

空口无凭,以实为证。在笔者本国澳大利亚,十年之内已经举行过四次大选,而党内免职总理已经是屡见不鲜的现象。澳大利亚联邦议会(有称国家级政府)分为150个议席(又称选区),每三年举行一次大选,而投票是强制性的。简单说,选民投票时选的是本地席位的某一个党代表。理论上,本地当选人将在国家议会上代表该地区公民的意愿。党内也以投票的形式选择其领导人,而若该党在大选中占多数这个代表会任命为总理。

这么简单的投票形式,这么宝贵的权利,怎么会被一个所谓的发达国家玩儿得这么坏?笔者认为,当前民主投票的理念中存在严重的误读,而蛊惑民心的政客经常利用选民对国度体制的误解,变本加厉。经常在媒体上看到的工党和自由党,也就是大众口中的所谓“政府与反对党”,这个说法和体制本身存在天渊之别。实际上,除了两个大党之外澳大利亚还有许多小党、组织和个人议员。许多人仍然以为澳大利亚投票像美国一样直选总理,把大选视为两名大党候选人之间的选择。

在这么一个制度之下,政客玩的是人气大赛,而不是原则的争辩。所谓的“反对派”,也就是在上一次大选中未获胜的政党,通常会搬弄是非,并不在意国家和公民的利益统统反对另一派的说法和政策。群起而攻之还不算,也要凭空捏造甚至用恐惧忽悠选民,并不会提供一个相对合理的方案让选民想主动投他,而是通过不断的攻击与诽谤造成大众对另一派的反感。政坛沦为一团乱麻后,投票已经不是执行政策的方式,选民无非是投个票毫不顾后果地发泄不满。民众的短视和政客的操纵,形成的是摇摆不定的状态,最终害的是自己,对于国家长期发展是一个非常低效的状态。

这种状态的缺陷显而易见,笔者在此举例说明。澳大利亚建立高速铁路是长年争论不休的目标。最近在2013年,吉拉德政府曾经做过调查并且宣布,澳大利亚建立布里斯班、悉尼、堪培拉和墨尔本铁路(共1750公里)预计费用为1140亿澳元(约5680亿人民币),并且预期完成时间为2065年。相对而言,中国京沪高速铁路(共1318公里)以2200亿人民币(约441亿澳元)的预计费用在三年之内就完成并且对乘客开放。

脱完欧再脱离理性

脱欧成功的原理和澳洲政坛沦为一团乱麻本质上是一致的。为什么要脱欧?脱欧对英国公民带来了许多的不便,还给经济带来了巨大的打击,而这种后果在投票前就摆在眼前。脱欧成功之所以是政客把难民问题和欧盟放到一块,引起许多公民对此问题的担忧,宣布脱欧成功后,有的人甚至不知道脱的是什么东西。

在短暂的一年之内,特朗普从根本不可能参选的无耻之尤政客演变成共和党的代表人。澳大利亚政坛再乱,大不了就不建高铁罢了,而特朗普上台,这是让人为世界胆颤心惊的歹事。基于恐惧感和仇恨,比如其对穆斯林、墨西哥移民的歧视和制裁措施,自食其言的特朗普以“美国复兴”为号召似乎鼓动了大众。鉴于特朗普的到目前为止的成就,他通过美国公民对伊拉克战争、难民危机、经济危机和国内社会等问题的愤怒而崛起。

特朗普把大众担忧的问题简单化了,以最直接的方式提供解决问题的方案。对于难民问题,他想改一面墙。对于恐怖主义的问题,他想把伊斯兰国“炸出翔”,并且跟踪定居美国的穆斯林。在就业的问题上,特朗普认为进口产品抢走了美国人的饭碗,想对国际贸易加以鞭策。在许多对现状不满的选民眼里,特朗普是一个“接地气”的政客,他的解决方案简单明了,不像其它政客受政治准确的话语拘束。但是一旦当选,他的说法是否是可行的?特朗普貌似不明辨是非,并不在乎他言论中的真假、可能性和合理性。他作为一名极右分子他的极端言论似乎不受拘束,无论他口中说着多夸张的胡言乱语,特朗普作为一个反对当前的政治体制起到了非常有效的作用。正是因此,国际媒体上一针见血的批评对于特朗普的铁杆粉丝简直就是对牛弹琴。

无论是经济还是社会上,困难时期是人最感性的时候,是最迷惘的时候,也是特朗普这种蛊惑民心的政客夺权的绝佳机会。脱欧已经明确地表明民主体制出了问题。当一个国家在投票的过程中被忽悠得都不知道自己投出了什么名堂,这个国家的政治体制明显存在严重的误读。民主最本质的宗旨是“为人民服务”,实现大众的意愿,但是当大众不仅仅不了解投票的体制而投的根本就不是自己的意愿,是否已经违反了民主的理想?特朗普若当选当然也受议会和宪法的拘束,但是对于西方民主国家这是一个十分危险的先例。让我们拭目以待美国选民这场“全面娱乐”的结果吧。

【澳】高林,澳大利亚国立大学荣誉学士

网约车新政:破坏性的创新

网约车:破坏性的创新

据悉,交管部门去年底提出的《网络预约出租汽车经营服务管理暂行办法》(俗称网约车新政)或将在七月初出台。问世不久的”网约车”不仅是家喻户晓的流行网络用语,亦是日常生活中必备的出行方案。方便便捷的”网约车”好处显而易见,即融合了传统交通与新时代的”互联网+”科技为全国人民提供了新颖的出行方式,又有助于缓解原有的招手即停的出租车的不足之处。在短暂的四年之内,网约车已经抢尽风头,成功改变了多名用户的出行习惯,变成千家万户的首选”打车”方式。最为代表性的网约车平台“滴滴出行”称其去年的订单量足14.3亿元人民币,每日平均订单量高达1400万。如此之大的经济转变,在启动出租车行业前所未有的人力和技术改进的同时,也带来了难以对付的立法与管理问题。

成功在于破坏

网约车的成功可以理解为一种”破坏性创新”(又称突破性、颠覆性创新),克雷頓·克里斯澄生在《创新的两难》一文中曾阐述过。破坏性的创新最初是在简单技术的基础上推出价格低廉、质量略差、用户量较少的产品,而这种产品最大的特点是其针对的消费群与现有的产品截然不同。它在初始阶段所针对的市场大程度上面向的是所谓的“非消费”群体,也就是在现有的消费群之外。此类低价产品备受低消费群体(即原本的非消费群体)的喜欢,所以促成了在简便技术基础之上,快速改进和市场扩展的效果。

世界上最至明的网约车平台是2009年在美国成立的优步。在战略方面,优步和滴滴出行在国内的手段大致相同。两家网约车平台自身不经营出租车服务,而像淘宝一样作为司机和客户双方的中介。为了扩展平台的规模,优步和滴滴都兴师动众的融资了大量的基金,为双方提供补贴, 使得其平台在吸引客户的同时也吸引了所谓的”专车”司机,并且扩展了服务规模,也动摇了招手即停出租车原有的垄断地位。

专车抑或是黑车?

网约车平台的目的是打乱市场秩序,以互联网+为基础创建新颖的”共享经济”。所谓的共享经济,实际上是把传统经济里的壁垒倒塌的新型交易模式(没写完)。而这种交易,说白了就是私下的,不属于任何受法制监管的。在出租车行业,这种离经叛道的行为早就已经相沿成习,称之为黑车。黑车就是没有载客资格的出租车,和滴滴专车实质上是没有什么区别的,而前者无可争议的是违法的服务。从这个角度上讲优步、滴滴、易到等网约车平台其实是黑车的预约服务,正规化了原本定为违法违规的私人载客服务。

平台也给消费者也提供了大量的保障和便利,在提高出行体验质量的同时也通过技术和反馈减少了宰客的可能性。优步、嘀嘀出行等”网约车”平台都有严格的注册授权过程,并且为消费者提供简约的反馈功能。此外,”网约车”平台作为”一条龙”服务的应用程序,增加了消费者的意识并且也保护了消费者的权益。实时导航地图,价格统一性和应用内网络支付减少了”宰客”的可能性,并且增强了出行的效率和便利。”不打表”和”打车难”的交通高峰困难已经是世界各地屡见不鲜的情况,给日常出行带来了负面影响,并且使得许多客户质疑出租车司机的素质。

网约车是否安全?

优步等网约车平台在世界各地遭到了出租车司机的抗议,这也不足为奇。到此为止,这种抗议貌似对执法的影响并不大。有人要对优步下定义,明确定之为不合法,并且彻底取缔网约车服务。最常见的理由是网约车不安全,不受官方的监管,因此无法保证乘客的安全和权益。中国国内近期也有报道多次发生的网约车事件,包括FIFA电竞选手被滴滴司机砍断手筋,深圳女教师被网约车司机杀害,和深圳醉酒女子凌晨叫车,遭滴滴司机猥亵、尾随。在国外,此问题也是媒体关注的焦点。美国出租车司机联盟发布过一项”你坐谁的车?”(http://www.whosdrivingyou.org)的网站,其主旨为收集美国地区的”网约车”事件,并且提倡抵制网约车。但是,该网站并没有什么可比性,只是单纯地收集了网约车的反面新闻,也没有证明出租车事件比较少。联盟的代言人说明,”我们并没有明确的数字,几乎全是轶事”。

当然,任何平台都难免有个别案例,但是以”社会安全”为口号的网约车反对派,并没有明确地证明出租车比网约车安全。与此相反,网约车平台主动对安全问题做了更进一步的措施。在深圳一名女教师不幸遭到杀害后,嘀嘀出行表示其将会利用技术增强安全措施,包括全天客服和一键报警、形成轨迹共享、道理偏离提醒、人脸识别等安全应急功能。同时,优步表示其在中国地区已开启司机端的人像识别,以确保出行的安全。笔者认为在没有可比依据的情况下,以安全为理由对网约车彻底取缔的说法不足为训。为了保证出行的安全,对网约车管制立法是迫在眉睫的任务。

是否合法?该如何对网约车立法?

可见,网约车的成功在大程度上印证了传统出租车存在的问题,并且提供了解决问题的方案。世界各地争论已久的难题是,网约车是否合法?在当前的法律上网约车和黑车不相上下,被不同地区定为违法载客服务,多次被当地警方打击并罚款。近期,济南市城市公共客运服务管理中心判断滴滴专车司机为非法运营,扣车并且罚款15000元。去年,上海、北京、南京、青岛等地区曾”叫停”嘀嘀、易到,把专车定为”黑车”。

与此同时,世界各地的政府在网约车立法的问题上纠缠不休。由于州政府的规定在不同地区执行不同程度上的监管,优步一直以来游走在法律的边缘上。作为世界上仅有对优步等”网约车”服务立法的城市,澳大利亚首都堪培拉在2015年10月底启动了一项出租车行业改革政策。该政策是澳大利亚首都领地政府与优步长期商讨的结果,在初步阶段要求优步司机向官方申请载客执照,并且提供相应的保险,像定期的车检、犯罪记录背景调查等。《澳大利亚首领地出租车行业创新改革》文中说明,在出租车行业开放化的同时,出租车的注册和培训费用将会降低,而且出租车将享受特权,包括机场的出租车专区。后期,该政策将会统一化”网约车”平台和传统出租汽车的监管体制,并且允许司机同时在不同的平台上接单。

堪培拉对”网约车”立法后,新南威尔士州政府随后对出租车行业进行改革。澳洲其他地区依然取缔优步等服务,称之为非法运行载客服务。自2014年优步正式进入昆士兰以来,州政府一直判断其为非法的,并且对优步司机进行严厉的罚款。与此同时,优步总部鼓励司机逃单,并且公布相关议员的信息,鼓励用户向政府抗议。昆州交通运输部长说明,该州的交通体制正在复审中。他强调,创新并非犯法的借口。

英、美国等地区随后按照本地的特殊条件也采取了不同的立法和管理方案。英国伦敦自60年代以来具有不同类型的出租车牌照,而网约车纯属合法的小型出租车,仅需司机申请网约车执照。同时,英国交管部门对此类型的载客服务有基本的安全要求,并且对其进行监管。在美国,不同地区依然执行不同程度上的禁止,有个别州政府已经对与载客相关的法律进行修改与更新,随着网约车的普及化也对其手下留情。

新政出台前夕之际,国内网约车是否有锦绣前程?

不言自明,对网约车立法是必然的,一刀切不可,但又不得不干涉。网约车的用户量日益增加,目前的地方化管制方法是不可维持的。本次《办法》出台,广泛共识的是希望更好地管理目前较混乱的出租车行业,并且对滴滴出行、易到用车、优步等创新的模式持有更加宽容的态度,使得传统经济适当的转型为更加有效率的新颖出行模式。与此同时,法制机构对安全问题加以鞭策也势所必然。有法可依,有章可循。在当前”游击战”般的状态下,安全措施完全由平台自身具备,虽然平台努力为用户提供反馈和安全的保障,这种看似脱离法制机构的私人经济并非良好的现象和发展趋势。同时,网约车平台的不合理及不可维持的商业手段或将被取缔,提高行业内的公平性和对消费者有利的竞争。

应否干涉业内的问题,执行多大程度上的监管和限制,是C2C平台问世以来世界各地政府争论不休的难题。淘宝、Airbnb、优步、嘀嘀打车、微商等以互联网为基础的平台启动了一种私人化和兼职化的经济趋向,称之为”共享经济”。共享经济实质上的作用是在传统经济内的多余资源的同时,启动了前所未有的人力资源和交易便利,理论上不仅会提高经济的灵活性和效率,也会便利消费者和商家双方。从这方面讲,这种平台是经济自然演变中的良好转型推动者,但在从利益和管理方面,平台统统会形成垄断,并且从大量的交易中套利,掌控一定的权利。互联网+的利弊互见,是在适当的监管制度之下,对消费者和商业是利大于弊的。本次《办法》出台将会决定未来的发展方向,让我们拭目以待。

【澳】高林,作者系澳大利亚国立大学荣誉学士

Designing Heritage

The designer of the four interconnected websites — China Heritage, China Heritage AnnualA New Sinology Reader and The Story of the Stone — reflects on his experience in creating these sites with the founders of The Wairarapa Academy, Geremie R. Barmé and John Minford, and the Stone scholar Annie Ren. — The Editor


Callum Smith

Designer, China Heritage

#bad_design { cursor: crosshair; }

According to Internet statistics analysts at MIT, by early 2016 there were over one billion unique websites on the Internet; Google and other search engines had indexed over one trillion webpages. The average Internet user visits fewer than one hundred websites a month. When visiting a site, a reader will generally skim under twenty percent of the site’s total content.

Although websites are an integral part of digital life, statistics show that most online content remains under-utilised or unexplored. Why is this?

There is no denying the fact that average users visit sites or use web apps for immediate and pragmatic reasons, or for instant gratification. Commercial sites and apps are created to provide ‘click bait’ and many achieve that aim seamlessly. But what of content-rich sites that languish in cyber purgatory: not entirely ignored nor ever fully utilised?

From my experience both as a web user (I’m twenty-three this year and started surfing the net at age five) and as a web designer (I created my first website at the age of ten), I would suggest that apart from simple utilitarian uses of the net, most websites even when they are designed for easy navigation and prolonged use (that is, to be ‘sticky’), reflect a disconnect between the aims of content providers and the designers they employ to help realise their online vision, or ‘web market model’. As a result, even professional or non-commercial sites are often ungainly and hard to navigate.

If websites are so important, why are often so poorly designed, or fail to optimise content? With one billion other websites to contend with, why should anybody read yours?

Don’ts and Does

Websites are easy to make. Packaged solutions like WordPress provide the means by which even the least tech-savvy user can build their own website. Not surprisingly, most of the resulting sites end up looking generic, regardless of the intended purpose; they readily become cluttered with irrelevant elements and feature widgets-for-widgets’ sake. Once up and running, they are often not maintained and become ill-kempt. Amateur sites like these may be used for simple data mining; they are rarely fully explored or ever returned to, floating adrift in the gyre of the Internet, lost in a virtual Sargasso Sea. Professionally designed websites, however, might be aesthetically appealing, but their designers often have no involvement, or particular interest in, the content they are working with. The results of such a mismatch are evident everywhere.

Poorly designed websites are not only frustrating, they are counter-productive. Thoughtfully designed sites can be rich and varied. Clumsy and thoughtless sites are differently bad in pretty much the same way. They employ mundane and confusing formats. They are stylistically inconsistent, difficult to navigate, function poorly on mobile devices, and are unintuitive; they make excessive use of elements that serve no apparent function. In some cases, designers believe unconventional approaches make their sites ‘novel’ or ‘innovative’. More often than not, they deter potential readers, degrade the quality of the content, and present content authors as careless. Bad websites often share the following ten features. They:

  • Use non-standard or inconsistent colour schemes, typefaces and sizing
  • Bloat the page with irrelevant content, are over-complicated
  • Make poor use of whitespace and space distribution
  • Use an inconsistent layout between pages
  • Have an arbitrary navigation style, and employ poorly designed site hierarchy
  • Are not purpose-built and are designed inappropriately for the content type and theme
  • Use an incoherent URL structure, unintuitive ‘breadcrumbs’ (a good breadcrumb, or URL design, would reflect the hierarchical position of the page, eg. chinaheritage.org/journal/essays/on-websites)
  • Are incompatible with modern browsers and different platforms (i.e., mobile devices, tablets, desktop computers)
  • Load slowly, require users to install plugins or load unnecessary resources (Flash movies, complex graphics)
  • Are not well documented, are programmatically poorly constructed, and inhibit the participation of, and transition to new website developers

Such flaws result in cumbersome and illogical site designs and are detrimental to user experience. To my mind, a website is ‘well designed’ if it works in a way that fulfils user anticipation, or exceeds it, and if it is aesthetically pleasing. Although seemingly obvious, the primary consideration for an successful design is to determine how content and form can be aligned. The content — whether that be of an e-newspaper, digital news site, blog, app, e-commerce site, etc. — and the ‘tradition’ that the website builds on will determine basic design principles and functionalities.

As with any other publication, the design should be familiar, both aesthetically and hierarchically. A non-fiction book, for example, is divided into chapters and sections in a way that allows each logical entity to be read as an individual piece, but also as a component that threads together ideas and themes in the overarching work. A magazine, journal or newspaper is similarly divided into thematic sections, pages and columns, within which content is organised according to its relevance and relationship to other content.

Websites as Metaphor

At the same time, the website design should aim to incorporate new technologies and interactivity into the tradition that it inherits. Apple, for example, is a long-standing proponent of skeuomorphic design — that is, digital mimicry of familiar physical objects — in its software. In its design guidelines, Apple suggests:

When virtual objects and actions in an app are metaphors for familiar experiences — whether these experiences are rooted in the real world or the digital world — users quickly grasp how to use the app…. It’s best when an app uses a metaphor to suggest a usage or experience without letting the metaphor enforce the limitations of the object or action on which it’s based.

In making four interconnected websites — China HeritageChina Heritage Annual, A New Sinology Reader and The Story of the Stone — our aim was to develop a design that was both distinctive yet familiar; aesthetically pleasing and intuitive. We wanted the site to reflect a traditional reading experience, while introducing new levels of interactivity, inter-textuality and multi-layered design that digital media make possible. The ‘Heritage web stable’ builds on a history both of print and of online journal-style publications that goes back to 1995 (see below), and it has been designed with this tradition, theme and purpose in mind.

Structurally, the site has been organised in layers according to the regularity of content updates. The first stage of the drafting process was to determine what sections the site would comprise of, how those sections inter-relate, and their relative prominence. The wording and translations for each of these sections was carefully considered. Each ‘top level’ section uses either a single English word or two Chinese characters — the optimal length for screen sizes ranging from large desktops to smartphones. Although inevitably different from the final version, the initial draft provided the foundation on which the structure of the website was designed.

IMG_3984

The initial draft

Based on this draft written plan, sketched out crudely on paper, a rough design for the website was put together in PDF format, one that took design cues from traditional print media. The layout was designed with general English-language print format and reading habits in mind — that is, from left-to-right and top-to bottom. The header — the most dominant component of every section of the site — establishes the ‘brand’ of the website, and sets the theme for the page being viewed. We selected the grass-script form of the character 遺  ‘heritage’ in the hand of Li Huailin 李懷琳 of the Tang dynasty as a motif for the Heritage ‘brand’, and photographic artwork by Lois Conner as the prominent banner. In Chinese, these two components are known as the ‘head’ 報頭 (‘flag’, or ‘nameplate’ in English) and ‘eyes’ 報眼 (or ‘ears’ in English) of the newspaper. The header provides the thematic basis for the minimalistic and tradition-inspired design. Variations made to the header are used to differentiate major sections of the site. The serif typefaces — Trajan for titles, Caslon for content and Huawen kaiti 華文楷體 for Chinese — and black-and-white primary colour schemes have been used as part of the overall tradition-inspired style.

#FFFFFF Paper Thinking

Early layout draft

Early layout draft

Using this basic structure and thematic motif, the first section to be drafted was the front page. The front page (or ‘home page’) of a website was once considered to be the most visited, and therefore the most important page. This is no longer the case. Search engines now index every section of a website guiding users to specific content; most users who visit the front page do so with the intention of quickly navigating to a more relevant part of the site. Poorly designed sites wastefully populate the front page with a slab of text ‘about this site’ or ‘how to use this website’. Instead, we conceptualised the front page of the main China Heritage site as serving a similar function to the front page of a newspaper. It should provide, at a glance, seamless navigation to other sections of the website, but also draw the reader’s attention to new content. To resolve this, we designed a prominent ‘top level’ navigation menu — ‘About’, ‘Projects’, ‘Journal’ and ‘Archive’ — for quick access to major sections of the website. These are further divided into sub-sections in drop-down menus. On the left side of each page, a contextual menu provides navigation between pages within the same section. In the main content area, excerpts from the four most recent journal articles are displayed. This introduces first-time users to the website and its content, as well as providing return readers with an overview of what has been added since their last visit. This basic layout is universal throughout the site.

Elements are sized and positioned according to their relative importance, prominence and recurrence. Each element of the design has been chosen to serve an obvious, familiar and unique purpose. Each page is divided into separate logical entities by means of white space. Many webpages divide individual elements — such as lists, or paragraphs — by using excessive amounts of blank space and make inconsistent or confusing use of division indicators, such as headings. This clutters the page unnecessarily, and makes content difficult to read. In order to determine the optimal amount of spacing between elements, and the precise positioning of those elements to form natural ‘lines’ on the screen, ‘mock’ designs were revised many times before any code was written and a ‘live’ site posted.

China Heritage was designed to look and function the same, regardless of the device used to view it: whether that be on a desktop, a touchscreen tablet or mobile phone. A similar, but distinct, conceptual design was drafted for various screen sizes and platforms. Elements are automatically rearranged and re-calibrated according to screen size. On desktops, menus respond to mouse events — such as clicks and hovers — while touch-screen devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, respond to a sequence of taps, in order to best adhere to the expected mode of interaction on each platform.

An early Photoshop draft (left), and the current live site (right)

An early Photoshop draft (left), and the current live site (right)

Sub-sites — that is, major sections of the site that warrant an independent navigational logic — are designed according to this basic layout, using contextual menus for deeper navigation within the sub-site. These sub-sites are distinguished by subtle variations on the standard page elements — such as the colour-scheme and the banner image.

Annual 2016 draft site

Annual 2016 draft site

Even within the deep layers of a ‘sub-site’ — for example, in an issue of the China Heritage Annual, or one of The Academician’s personal archives — the reader should be able to navigate seamlessly back to the main Heritage site. Although each of these sub-sites could be designed as an independent entity, this hierarchical design allows for a level of integration and unity that would not be possible if each sub-site were designed separately.

Superficial Depths

As new technologies become available and site content evolves websites are invariably revised and redesigned. Over the initial design period (March-July 2016), layout of China Heritage was repeatedly tested, reviewed and revised as content was added. Shortcomings become evident as elements fell into place and began to feel ‘right’. This process of revision and improvement will continue for as long as China Heritage exists. This is why the site is designed to be modular — that is, content and design are distinct and independent. This allows for the seamless integration of future changes to the layout, style and functionality of the site. The design, scripts and other server-side code unique to the site are internally documented, to allow anyone with a basic understanding of website development languages to participation in the further design and development of the site.

An excerpt of the CSS

An excerpt of the CSS

Designed under the guidance of Geremie R. Barmé (a writer who has worked on various websites since co-building with his colleagues at the Long Bow Group in Boston The Gate of Heavenly Peace site to accompany the film of the same name in 1995), China Heritage is the product of a minimalist, purpose-built approach to intuitive website design. Other content types would require design principles different from those described here. Irrespective of genre, one basic rule of web design applies: the function of any element should never be confusing, or unexpected. The design should encourage reading, not deter it. Webpages are more likely to be read when their purpose is obvious, content is relevant, and they are easy to navigate and use. Impatience and skim reading are habits that need to be understood and accommodated, in particular as they are likely to become even more prevalent among web users and with the gradual transition towards primarily smartphone and tablet based web-browsing.

Technologies change with time, as do user habits and expectations. China Heritage was designed, coded and written primarily on an iPad Pro — unimaginable when the first generation of that device was launched in 2010 — even today a cause for ridicule among path-dependent, conservative programmers and designers. Websites that are designed to attract users and readers and that aim to remain relevant should anticipate, accommodate and embrace the kinds of changes to habits and technologies described in the above. At the same time, they will also inevitably evolve as new content and reader/user responses clarify their purpose, and their possibilities.


Originally published in the China Heritage Journal: http://chinaheritage.net/journal/designing-heritage/

Shanzhai 山寨 China and its Contents

In the welter of discussions in Australia about ‘innovation’, ‘agility’ and being ‘nimble’ in the marketplace, it is timely for us to consider China’s own inventive shanzhai culture and its consumers. In fact, it is especially fitting to reflect on shanzhai as a form of disruptive innovation this year, which marks half a century since the onslaught of the Cultural Revolution in 1966.

Callum Smith, who is twenty-three this year, is a former IT programmer, a translator and a China scholar. In 2015, he completed an Honours thesis, ‘China’s Shanzhai Entrepreneurs: Hooligans or Heroes?’, at The Australian National University. — The Editors

_____________

Pi County 郫县 in Sichuan province, famous for its ‘spicy fermented sauce’ 豆瓣酱, is also home to Comrade X, one of China’s 273 million migrant workers.[1] He moved to Shenzhen on the Guangdong border with Hong Kong to take advantage of the country’s economic boom and to support his family in Sichuan. He earns an average monthly migrant 农民工 wage of RMB 2864 (AUD$620). During his lunch break, you won’t find Comrade X at such popular yuppie hangouts as Starbucks 星巴克 sipping RMB 36 (AUD$7.50) lattes, although back in Pi County over the Spring Festival you might have run into him at Starfucks 墨巴克, a local coffee outlet with an arresting name inspired by the American franchise.

The Starfuck Cafe, Pi County, Sichuan province. Photograph: The Epoch Times

Starfucks Cafe, Pi County, Sichuan province. Photograph: The Epoch Times

As he drinks Sino-coffee for around RMB 10 (AUD$2) Comrade X might well be wearing the latest ‘ZARE’ couture while watching the TV news streaming on his HiPhone.[2] Back in Guangdong, his girlfriend — a sales consultant at a small stall in one of Shenzhen’s many wholesale electronics markets — sports a ‘high-end replica’ 高仿 Louis Vuitton bag and makes a living selling ‘domestically produced’ 国产 and ‘smuggled’ 水货 smartphones. The imitation products that festoon the couple’s lives are part of ‘shanzhai 山寨 China’.

Shanzhai, the word means roughly ‘mass-produced imitation goods’, has created a Chinese landscape that is littered with products derided by the media, Chinese and international, as ‘copycat’, ‘guerrilla counterfeits’ and ‘knockoffs’, all the work of thieves.[3] Those who feel that their intellectual property and copyright has been infringed by shanzhai producers describe the products as ‘rubbish’, ‘piracy in disguise’ and ‘hooligan’.[4] Regardless of such righteous outrage, shanzhai — the producers, the products and the mentality — continues to flourish as an essential, quasi-legitimate shadow dimension of the Chinese economy. And, in practical terms, shanzhai products give disenfranchised ‘non-consumers’ of the orthodox economy — that is, people who would like to own but can’t afford the ‘original’ products — cut-price access to high-end technologies, as well as offering aspirational shoppers consumer satisfaction. For the ruling Chinese party-state, tolerance of the legally ambiguous phenomenon of shanzhai might also contribute to social stability.

Shanzhai Takes the Stage

The shanzhai-ification of China was officially recognised on 2 December 2008 when China Central Network Television (CCTV) Network News reported on shanzhai culture, the first mainstream media acknowledgement of the phenomenon.[5] Long before the CCTV report, however, the market for shanzhai telephones had been flourishing. In 2007 alone, a full year before that initial news report, an estimated 150 million shanzhai handsets were on the market.[6] They generated a total annual revenue for producers of USD$40 billion and sustained approximately 200,000 jobs.[7]

Shanzhai 山寨 literally means ‘mountain stronghold’. The term crops up in late-dynastic fiction but the more immediate use of the word is the Cantonese saanjaaih 山寨 (shanzhai in standard Chinese), a term connoting black-market business practices. Jaaih 寨, the second part of saanjaaih, literally means ‘stockade’. It was used in Hong Kong from the 1940s to refer to unlicensed and unregulated brothels, as in the term geihjaaih 妓寨, literally ‘prostitute holdout or stockade’.[8] The saanjaaih chong 山寨廠 that operated in remote areas of the British colony in the 1950 and 1960s became known for producing inferior-quality ‘homebrew’ or ‘homemade’ products. The covert nature of their operations, and their distance from the long arm of the law, allowed them to avoid prosecution by the authorities although they were involved in shady and often illegal business practices.[9] In the Noughties, the cheap, feature-rich imitation mobile phones first produced in the shadowlands of Shenzhen — typically labelled with subtle variations on brand names, such as ‘NOKLA’ instead of ‘Nokia’ and ‘Samsang’ instead of Samsung[10] — were originally called ‘black phones’ 黑手机. Drawing inspiration from the nearby territory of Hong Kong, producers and consumers were soon calling them ‘shanzhai handsets’, or shanzhaiji 山寨机. (The expression shanzhaiji is an abbreviation of shanzhai yidong dianhua shouji 山寨移动电话手机.)[11]

I Heart Shanzhaiji

I Heart Shanzhaiji

Despite widespread criticism, the existence of patent laws and constant assurances from officialdom that China is cracking down on IP infringement, the shanzhai economy has lost none of its vigour or appeal.[12] In 2015, estimates placed the number of shanzhai telephone handsets made in that year at 300 million.[13] Given the fact that when it so chooses the Communist Party can act with relentless efficiency in dealing with issues that it regards as a real threat,[14] it seems likely that the ‘hooligans’ behind shanzhai handset production could be brought to heel if the authorities were earnest about enforcement. Indeed, as one Shenzhen-based entrepreneur suggested to me in an interview in July 2015:

Shanzhai enterprises operate on the fringes of the law. Why doesn’t the government crackdown on shanzhai? …

Xi Jinping’s government values social harmony above all else 以和为贵. Similarly, his predecessor Hu Jintiao’s government promoted a ‘Harmonious Society’ 和谐社会. In order to maintain harmony above all else, unless a legitimate threat to public security is detected, the Chinese government will turn a blind eye to many otherwise legally ambiguous phenomena.[15]

All-Consuming Disruptive Innovation

Prior to the 2003 emergence of ‘black phones’, even basic (that is, not ‘smart’) mobile phones, which were priced between RMB 6400 to 8000, were considered a luxury item by migrant workers, and even most Chinese consumers. With the appearance of cheap ‘shanzhai handset’ mobile phones which cost a few hundred yuan, the number of mobile phone subscriptions in China grew from 270 million in 2003 to 1.2 billion in 2013.[16]

Mobile Phone Subscription Growth, 1989-2013. From The Economist

Mobile Phone Subscription Growth, 1989-2013. From The Economist

The concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ was described as early as 1997 by the Harvard academic cum-business guru (and fervent Mormon) Clayton Christensen in his bestseller The Innovator’s Dilemma. In that much-hyped book Christensen promoted the idea that for successful companies to stay successful they had to prepare for future consumer trends and technological change by appreciating the importance of what he dubbed ‘disruptive innovation’, or by pre-empting unexpected change through the far-sighted creation of new markets.  I would suggest, that Chinese-style disruptive innovation actually unsettles existing markets via the creative adaptation of existing technologies which then generates new markets, embracing consumers like Comrade X who featured in the opening vignette of this essay. Indeed,

The innovation transforms something that used to be so costly, only the very rich had access to it. These innovations make it so affordable and simple that normal people can do what only the rich and very skilled could do before.[17]

So-called ‘disruptive firms’ do not solely compete in existing markets. They instead seek to generate growth by meeting the needs of ‘non-consumers’ — that is, those unable to the afford the offerings of incumbent firms. For China’s ‘disruptive non-consumers’, shanzhai products offer affordable alternatives that are both functional and fashionable. Shanzhai products potentially mitigate the impacts of income inequality by providing lower-income earners with access to a shadow market of goods that resemble desirable products otherwise beyond their reach. As a certain Old Cai — a typical ‘non-consumer’ — put it in a 2010 interview, the materialistic yearnings of lower-income earners is partially fulfilled by the shanzhai economy:

We don’t just buy shanzhai phones. We also buy shanzhai clothes, shanzhai watches, shanzhai cooking utensils, shanzhai belts — anything that’s an imitation of a brand-name product. We like to buy all sorts of shanzhai stuff. It’s not that we don’t know that they’re low-quality imitations. We simply can’t afford the real deal. But we’re vain too. So we buy shanzhai copies — you know, for show.[18]

A Moderately Prosperous Shanzhai Society

Although many shanzhai products violate Chinese copyright laws, the government’s tolerance of them may, in part, be attributed to the Party’s continuing aims of maintaining social unity and stability. More recently, the Party has aimed to ‘Construct an Harmonious Society’ 构建和谐社会, first propounded under Hu Jintao in 2004.[19] This now complements the Party’s ‘first centenary goal’ (1921-2020) of making China a ‘Moderately Prosperous Society’ 小康社会 by 2020, one hundred years since the founding of the Communist Party.[20] In light of these policy settings, the Party may well covertly tolerate shanzhai consumption because it serves its interests. According to Duan Liyue 段礼乐, a legal scholar at Shenzhen University, the logic of aspirational consumption that lurks behind the purchase of shanzhai products, and the sheer size of the ‘non-consumer’ demographic that buys them, has quietly led to a government decision not to enforce intellectual property laws too rigorously:

There is a widely held view that China’s poor implementation of intellectual property protection is the cause of the rampant shanzhai phenomenon… . As a matter of fact, it was not ineffective enforcement of intellectual property laws that caused the shanzhai phenomenon to emerge. It was, to the contrary, the logic of consumption behind the purchase of shanzhai products that led to the non-enforcement of intellectual property laws.[21]

Although shanzhai products theoretically lessen the social impact of income inequality, ironically, the consumption of second-rate ‘knock-offs’ reinforces the social divide between those who can and those who cannot afford the originals. Indeed, the rise of shanzhai products has hardly dampened the Chinese consumer’s desire for authentic expensive products. In a 2011 survey conducted by the China Market Research Group, for example, luxury goods were deemed the third most desirable possession among Chinese consumers under the age of twenty-six (after a house and a car).[22]

In 2012, Chinese consumer obsession with luxury mobile phones and the sometimes extreme measures that they pursued to procure them became the subject of an infamous Internet meme: ‘Sell a kidney to buy an iPhone’ 卖肾买苹果. This phrase originated with a media report about a seventeen-year-old boy who had sold one of his kidneys for 20,000 RMB so he could buy the latest iPhone and an iPad.[23] Although there are no official statistics on the trade in kidneys, surveys suggest that many members of China’s aspiring middle class live frugally so they can occasionally splurge on luxury goods.[24] It’s a phenomenon first described by Thorstein Veblen in his 1899 classic The Theory of the Leisure Class in which he notes that:

…[P]eople will undergo a very considerable degree of privation in the comforts or necessaries of life in order to afford what is considered a decent amount of wasteful consumption; so that it is by no means an uncommon occurrence, in an inclement climate, for people to go ill clad in order to appear well dressed.[25]

Starfucking China

Although acquiring a shanzhai copy may offer a similar experience to that of someone who can afford to buy the original product, the juxtaposition of the ‘fake’ to the authentic original reinforces perceptions of class distinctions and social inferiority. The consumption of shanzhai imitations thus serves to reinforce the status hierarchies implied by the ownership of the authentic product.[26] Consumption of shanzhai imitations reaffirms the buyer’s social status as a ‘non-consumer’ of authentic products, and it can make the original product even more desirable by comparison. Such overt social contradictions are noted by the novelist Yu Hua 余華 in his 2011 China in Ten Words:

When health is impaired, inflammation ensues, and the copycat [shanzhai] trend is a sign of something awry in China’s social tissue. Inflammation fights infection, but it may also lead to swelling, pustules, ulcers, and rot.[27]

But is anything really awry? Or is China merely on a trajectory to the ‘new normal’ 新常态 of consumer-driven economic development?

_______________

Notes

Author’s Note: This essay draws on my Honours thesis, ‘China’s Shanzhai Entrepreneurs: Hooligans or Heroes?’, completed under the supervision of Geremie R Barmé at the College of Asia & the Pacific, The Australian National University, 2015. My thanks to Professor Barmé for the further editorial suggestions he made when reviewing this piece.

[1] ‘Bureau of Statistics Publishes the 2014 Report from the Survey of Migrant Workers’ 统计局发布2014年全国农民工监测调查报告, the online portal for the Central Government of The People’s Republic of China 中央政府门户网站, 29 April 2015, online at: http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2015-04/29/content_2854930.htm.

[2] ‘Starfucks, Yongdou Hejiang … Sichuan’s Shanzhai Alley is Really Something’ 墨巴克、永豆和漿 … 四川山寨一條街超雷人, The Epoch Times, 11 July 2014, online at: http://www.ettoday.net/news/20140711/377456.htm; and, ‘A Shanzhai Alley of Brand Name Products Appears on Xihuxi Road in Wuxi — With Truly Shocking Shopfronts and Signs’ 品牌山寨街现身锡沪西路 店铺招牌雷翻众人, Sina, 7 January 2014, online at: http://wx.sina.com.cn/news/wxnews/2014-01-07/085234550.html; and, ‘The Best of the Shanzhai Mobiles: Hiphone vs iPhone’ 最强山寨手机Hiphone挑战iPhone, NetEase, online at: http://mobile.163.com/special/001127IL/hiphone.html.

[3] Lessley Anderson, ‘3 Lessons Apple’s Jony Ive Learned from Steve Jobs’, Vanity Fair, 10 October 2014, online at: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2014/10/jony-ive-lessons-from-steve-jobs. See also Yu Hua, China in Ten Words, Alan H Barr trans, New York: Pantheon Books, 2011, p.261; Winnie Won Yin Wong, Van Gogh on Demand, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014, p.142; and, David Barboza, ‘In China, Knockoff Cellphones are a Hit’, The New York Times, 27 April 2009, online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/technology/28cell.html?_r=0.

[4] Pei Yu 裴钰, ‘Shanzhai Breaks Laws, and Shanzhai Culture is a Rubbish Culture’ 山寨触犯法律 山寨文化是一个垃圾文化, Tencent News, 7 March 2009, online at: http://news.qq.com/a/20090307/001066.htm; ‘The Celebrity Committee Member Ni Ping Calls for an End to Public Discourse on Shanzhai’ 明星委员倪萍提案封杀“山寨” 舆论哗然一片, Pipi Entertainment News 皮皮娱乐, 3 March 2009, online at: http://ent.pipi.cn/info/7/7913.html; and, Zhu Dake 朱大可, ‘Shanzhai Culture is a Deconstructive Social Movement’ 山寨文化是一場社會解構運動, Sina, 15 January 2009, online at: http://news.sina.com/ch/phoenixtv/102-101-101-110/2009-01-15/16413565607.html.

[5] ‘Shanzhai Mobile Handsets Snatch the Low-end of the Market, Experts Call it Infringement’ 山寨手机抢低端市场 专家称侵权, Sohu 搜狐, 2 December 2008, online at: http://tv.sohu.com/20081202/n260982719.shtml.

[6] The 150 million shanzhai handsets represented nearly a quarter of a total 750 million handsets produced in China that year. See ‘China’s “Bandit Phones” Making Big Scores’, CNN, 3 September 2009, online at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/07/29/china.fake.phones/.

[7] Chao‐Ching Wei et al, ‘Exploring the Industry Follower’s Entry Strategies from China’s Bandit Business Model’, Chinese Management Studies, vol.7, no.3 (2013): 369.

[8] Chen Xiaolang 陈小朗, ‘Shanzhai — Slang from the Red Light District’ 山寨 — 源于花街柳巷的俚语, Yangcheng Evening News 羊城晚报, 25 June 2009, online at: http://www.ycwb.com/ePaper/ycwb/html/2009-06/25/content_528326.htm; and, Gao Tianqiang 高添強 and Li Jian 李建, Colourful Hong Kong 1940s-1960s 彩色香港 1940s﹣1960s, Hong Kong: Joint Publishing HK 三聯書店 (香港) 有限公司, 2013, p.8. The billionaire Li Ka-shing 李嘉誠 is said to have operated saanjaaih chong throughout the 1950s. See http://www.91jucai.com/finance/chanye/2015-06-26/32518_2.html.

[9] Chen Xiaolang, ‘Shanzhai — Slang from the Red Light District’.

[10] Peng Sizhou et al 彭思舟等, The Economic Revolution of Shanzhai 山寨經濟大革命:模仿為創新之母, Taiwan: Showwe Information Co. 秀威資訊, 2009, p.31.

[11] Other terms for mobile phones in Chinese include: 移动电话; 行动电话; and, 手提式电话.

[12] William P Alford, To Steal a Book Is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property Law in Chinese Civilization, Redwood, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995, p.69; and, Andrew Mertha, The Politics of Piracy: Intellectual Property in Contemporary China, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005, p.77.

[13] Wade Shepard, ‘China’s Copycat Manufacturers are now Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation’, South China Morning Post, 20 May 2015, online at: http://www.scmp.com/native/business/topics/invest-china/article/1802238/chinas-copycat-manufacturers-are-now-pushing.

[14] See, for example, the media blackout imposed by the authorities following the Tianjin Haibin Explosion in August 2015. ‘Chinese censors have blocked 50 websites for “spreading rumors” about the Tianjin explosions’, Quartz, 17 August 2015, online at: http://qz.com/481679/chinese-censors-have-blocked-50-websites-for-spreading-rumors-about-the-tianjin-explosions/.

[15] Interview conducted by the author for ‘China’s Shanzhai Entrepreneurs: Hooligans or Heroes?’, 17 July 2015, Shenzhen.

[16] John Villasenor, ‘China’s Wireless Industry in Ten Graphs’, Forbes, 20 June 2014, online at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnvillasenor/2014/06/20/chinaswirelessindustryintengraphs; and, ‘All the Phones in China’, The Economist, 1 March 2012, online at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/03/daily-chart.

[17] Craig Lambert, ‘Disruptive Genius’, Harvard Magazine (July-August 2014), online at: http://harvardmagazine.com/2014/07/disruptive-genius.

[18] ‘Why do Migrant Workers Like Shanzhai Phones?’ 山寨手机为何受农民工兄弟青睐?, Maixun Mobile (Sina Blog) 迈讯网手机, 23 July 2010, online at: http://blog.ifeng.com/article/6522989.html.

[19] ‘Building a Socialist Harmonious Society’ 构建社会主义和谐社会, online at: http://dangshi.people.com.cn/GB/221024/221027/14907139.html.

[20] ‘Comrade Jiang Zemin Proposes the Comprehensive Construction of a Moderately Prosperous Society’ 江泽民同志提出全面建设小康社会, online at: http://theory.people.com.cn/n/2012/1024/c350701-19376357.html.

[21] Duan Liyue 段礼乐, ‘Shanzhai and Chinese Consumerism’ 中国的消费主义与“山寨”, Guangming Daily 光明网, 7 November 2009, online at: http://www.gmw.cn/02blqs/2009-11/07/content_1054743.htm.

[22] Shaun Rein, The End of Copycat China, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2014, p.145.

[23] ‘A high school student sells his kidney for RMB 20,000 to buy an iPhone, parents report to the authorities’ 高中生为买苹果手机卖肾只得2万 家人报警, Sina, 9 August 2012, online at: http://news.sina.com.cn/s/2012-08-09/091824936505.shtml. The phenomenon continued in 2015: following the launch of the iPhone 6S in September that year, a popular WeChat joke featured the posting pictures of the iPhone tagged at the location of a kidney transplant hospital with captions urging viewers not to be ‘so vain’ (as to sell a kidney for a phone). See ‘Young Man Actually Sells Kidney to Buy iPhone 6S’ 男子为买iPhone 6s手机: 真的去卖肾了, NetEase 网易科技, 15 September 2015, online at: http://tech.163.com/15/0915/08/B3HRON4J000915BF.html.

[24] Shaun Rein, ‘For Louis Vuitton Being Too Popular in China Is Not Good’, CNBC, 15 November 2011, online at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45282770; and, Megan Willett, ‘Louis Vuitton is Now a ‘Brand for Secretaries’ in China’, Yahoo Finance, 27 February 2015, online at: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/louis-vuitton-now-brand-secretaries-213713336.html.

[25] Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1994, p.103.

[26] Barton Beebe, ‘Shanzhai, Sumptuary Law, and Intellectual Property Law in Contemporary China’, UC Davis Law Review, vol.47 (2013): 863-864.

[27] Yu Hua, China in Ten Words, p.276.


Originally published in The China Story Journal: https://www.thechinastory.org/2016/02/shanzhai-山寨-china-its-contents/

【澳】高林:山寨中国及其详要

在澳洲,有关面对市场如何“创新”、“与时俱进”、“灵活应对”的话题正如火如荼地讨论下,我们是否应该看看具有中国特色的山寨文化和它的消费群体们。事实上,自1966年文化大革命巨大冲击以来的半个世纪,对山寨这一颠覆性的创新行为的反思在今年显得意义尤为深刻。

高林,23岁,前IT程序员、中英译者、中国研究员,2015年完成其澳洲国立大学荣誉硕士论文《中国山寨企业家:流氓抑或是英雄?》—— 编者著

_____________

四川郫县,素来以其郫县豆瓣闻名,这也是中国2亿7千3百万外出务工人员中小X的家乡。他前往广州深圳打工以换取更高的收入来支持他远在四川的家庭,深圳受益于毗邻的香港经济特区,经济发展迅速。他每月收入2864元,这也是当地农民工工资月均收入。在午休时间,你不会在星巴克咖啡厅这样的雅皮士(高收入青年)聚集地发现小X在那里小酌一杯售价36元的拿铁咖啡,但你也许能在春节期间郫县“墨巴克”这样的山寨美国品牌的咖啡厅里遇见他。

当小X正在享用他用10元买来的中国式咖啡时,你会发现他正穿着最新一季的“ZARE” 新装,用他的Hiphone手机看着新闻视频。而他远在的广东的女友炫耀般地提着她的高端仿制LV手提包,她是深圳电子产品批发市场中一小摊位上的销售员,依靠销售国产手机和“水货”智能手机为生。这些仿冒产品不断地围绕着二人的生活,这也是中国山寨的缩影。

山寨一词,是指粗糙的仿制产品,这些杂乱的产品在国内和国外媒体的嘲弄下,被形容为“抄袭”、“山寨”、“冒牌货”等小偷行为,形成了一种特殊的中国印象。那些认为自己的知识产权和版权受到山寨产品所侵害的人们形容其为“垃圾”、“剽窃”、“流氓”行为。不顾这些争议的愤怒之声,在中国经济法律的灰色地带,厂商、产品以及知识产权的山寨行为依然十分猖獗。在市场中,山寨产品也为那些被正统市场“剥夺权利”的非消费者提供了一个满足需求的新途径,那些想要拥有正版商品却不能承担其高昂费用的人们,现在可以以低廉的价格享受高端的科技产品,同时也从精神上满足了他们的消费需求。而对于中共而言,在山寨问题上模糊不清的法律纵容也有助于社会的稳定。

山寨占领舞台

2008年12月2日,因中国中央电视台网络新闻频道对山寨文化进行了报道,中国的“山寨化”也被官方所承认,这也是首次主流媒体公开承认这一现象。早在中央电视台报道之前,山寨手机市场就已经十分兴盛了,在首次报道的前一年,2007年整个年度,预计有1亿5千万部山寨手机在市场上销售。这总共为生产商创造了400亿美元的收益,并提供了约20万个岗位。

山寨顾名思义,原意为“山中城寨”。该词出现于中国古代小说中,但很快本被引用到了广东话中,读为 saanjaaih(山寨),隐喻黑市交易。jaaih(寨),用来形容栅栏包围之地。在20世纪40年代的香港,寨被用来形容无执照和未经许可的性服务场所,俗称妓寨,及“性工作者之栅栏”。而山寨厂(saanjaaih chong)这是指那些在20世纪50到60年代英国殖民期间,在香港远郊生产劣质产品的家庭作坊式工厂。他们秘密性质的运作,并地处法律难以触及到的偏远地区,尽管他们经常参与黑市交易、非法买卖,但他们却躲避了政府机关的审查。在世纪之交之时,深圳这一繁华之地第一次出现了价格低廉,外形奢华的仿制手机,典型地对市面上的品牌手机名称加以巧妙的复制,例如“HOKLA”之于“Nokia”以及“Samsung”之于“Samsang”。起初,它们被称为黑手机,后来受到香港“山寨”这一词汇的启发,很快人们把它们称作“山寨手机”或“山寨机”(山寨移动电话手机的简称)。

尽管指责声一片,现有的专利法及官员们一再不变地保证将坚决打击知识产权侵权行为,而山寨经济却并没有失去它的活力和需求。2015年间,估计山寨手机的制造数量达到3亿部。介于共产党在面对真正威胁时所能够采取的强大执行力来看,如果有关部门对这个问题严肃对待,那么这些躲在山寨手机产品背后的“流氓”将无处就范。的确,一名深圳当地的企业家在2015年7月接受笔者采访时表示:

山寨企业运营在法律的边缘。为什么政府没有对山寨采取打压措施呢?…
习近平政府把以和为贵作为社会和谐的战略目标。同样的,他的前任胡锦涛政府也在不予余力地构建“社会主义小康社会”。为了达成这一战略任务,除非出现了威胁社会安定团结的不法行为,否则政府将对一些模棱两可的现象睁一只眼闭一只眼。

彻底的破坏性创新

在03年“黑手机”展露苗头之前,即使被标以6400元到8000元的高价非智能手机,对于大多普通消费者也算是奢侈品,更别提外出务工的农民工。随着售价百余元的山寨廉价手机的出现,中国移动电话用户数量自2003年的2亿7千万增至2013年的12亿。

早在1997年哈佛学者兼商业专家克莱顿·克里斯坦森(Clayton Christensen)在其畅销书《创新者困境》中提出了“破坏性创新”这一概念。在这本备受炒作的书中,克里斯坦森提出,为了让成功的公司保持成功,他们必须通过正视“破坏性创新”的重要性,来为将来的消费潮流改变及科技进步做出准备,或通过目光远大的新兴市场创新达到先发制人且意想不到的改变。笔者想要提到的是,中国式的破坏性创新通过对现有技术的创造性改编,实际上已经动摇了现有市场,并产生了一个新兴市场,成功吸引了像上文提到的具有小X这样特征的消费人群。的确,

创新性转型的代价往往是非常高的,需要强大的财力支撑。而这些山寨创新打破了之前财力和技术的限制,让普通人也能以可负担而简单的方式进行。

所谓的“颠覆性企业”们也不是单一的在现有市场中竞争,他们也力求迎合那些所谓的“非消费者”的需求,即那些在位企业生产的却无法负担的产品。对于中国的“颠覆性非消费者”来说,山寨产品提供了在功能上和时髦上都能满足且负担得起的另一种选择。山寨产品通过对低收入人群提供一个灰色市场,让他们能够得到那些他们之前触不可及的同类型产品,潜在地缓和了收入不均带来的影响。山寨经济已满足了低收入人群的部分物质需求,就像某位蔡姓老人,一名典型的“非消费者”,在2010年的采访中说到:

“我们不光买山寨手机,山寨名牌衣服、山寨名牌手表、山寨名牌灶具包括山寨名牌裤带,只要是仿冒名牌货,大家都爱买,不是我们不知道这是冒牌货质量不好,而是我们买不起正牌货,但又想满足一下自己的虚荣心,买个山寨货显摆一下,装点一下门面…”
小康山寨社会

尽管许多的山寨产品已经违反了中国的版权法,但政府对他们的容忍,在某种程度上可归因于中共旨在维护社会的长治久安。近来,中共正致力于胡锦涛总书记于2014年提出的构建社会主义和谐社会的战略任务中。这是对在中国共产党成立一百年时全面建成小康社会这一“百年目标”(1921-2020)的补充。鉴于这些政策走向,中共有充分理由对这些山寨消费持默许的态度,因为这也是在为其利益服务。根据深圳大学法学学者段礼乐的说法,在山寨产品的购买行为中隐藏着获得梦寐以求的产品的消费逻辑,并且购买山寨产品的“非消费者”人数的绝对规模,已悄然地导致政府做出放宽知识产权法执行力度的决定:

有人认为,中国知识产权保护不力导致“山寨”泛滥,要求从“山寨”入手加强中国的知识产权保护工作。但事实恰恰相反,并不是知识产权保护不力导致“山寨”问题产生,而是“山寨”背后的消费逻辑决定着中国知识产权保护不力。

经管山寨产品在理论上减小了收入不均带来的影响,但讽刺的是,二流的“仿冒品”却促使了社会分化成谁能买正品和谁买不起正品两个阶层。的确,山寨产品的增长很难抑制中国消费者对真正昂贵商品的渴望。在2011年中国市场研究集团的调查中,奢侈商品被视为中国26岁以下消费者人群的第三渴望商品(仅次于房屋和车辆)。

2012年,中国消费者对奢侈移动手机的痴迷和为得到而采取的极端的行为的话题在网络上被形容为一个声名狼藉的说法:“卖肾买苹果”。这一说法起源于一媒体报道了一名17岁的少年,为得到最新的iphone和ipad,以20000元的价格卖掉了自己的一个肾。尽管官方记录中并没有这次交易,但调查发现,许多有抱负的中国中产阶级节衣缩食仅为了偶尔能在奢侈商品上挥霍一下。这种现象被托斯丹·范伯伦(Thorstein Veblen)在其1899年经典的有闲阶层理论中被指出:

…人类各个阶层在服饰上的消费,绝大部分源于为了有一个光鲜体面的外表,而非仅仅为了遮羞蔽体;所以在寒冷暴风的天气下,人们抵着生病的危险而衣着光鲜单薄的服装绝不是一件稀罕事。

“中国特色的”山寨

尽管获得山寨的复制品能够提供与够购买正品相似的满足感,但这种虚荣的攀比行为却加固了社会阶级分化和社会自卑的观念。山寨仿冒品的消费如此一来更加强化了以购买正版商品来暗示身份等级的作用,并且让那些正版商品在比较下更加显得令人渴望。如此明显的矛盾也出现在了小说家余华的《十个词汇里的中国》一书中:

就像人体的健康受到损伤时会出现炎症一样,山寨现象就是日中国社会生态的炎症。炎症一方面是在抗击病菌,另一方面也会带来红肿、脓包、溃烂和坏死。

是哪里出现了问题?还是中国仅仅处在前往某个消费主导型经济发展新常态的铁轨之上?

—  高林,澳大利亚国立大学荣誉学士

圍城:留學記

    摘要:本文原本為《來華留學項目座談會》主旨發言稿,即被評為其中最”感化“的演講稿之一。作者高林畢業於山東大學,目前在澳大利亞國立大學讀榮譽學位。其認為在華留學項目的好處顯而易見,但是仍有不足,尤其是在校園生活與住宿方面的安排。本文以錢鍾書著名作品《圍城》的書名為代表記錄了一個澳洲學生在華留學的感受與心得。

眾所周知,中國政府與國家漢辦為我們澳洲學生提供了許多留學的機會, 這是十分值得我們珍惜和感激的一種善舉。而且,留學的優點顯而易見,這是無可爭議的。今天,尊敬的大使館教育部為我們提供了很難得的一個好機會,對中澳兩國青年學生文化交流項目的運行做出直接的反饋,我願意結合自己的親身體會,表達我最誠摯的想法,使兩國間的教育合作更上一層樓。

中國得天獨厚的傳統文化應該是對留學生們進行熏陶的好資源,可是,我的疑問是,為什麼大多數外籍留學生在完成學業的時候語言水平還是連平常交流都不通順,更別提寫學術論文了。他們在中國留學時跟本地學生的生活是分開的,甚至成績要求都不一致。我個人認為語言不僅僅是一個交流的工具,而且也是幫助我們更好理解、研究、思考的一個基礎。想要提高中國的軟實力,就應該給外籍學生提供一個良好的交流與思考的平台。只有有了語言的基礎,才能夠引領我們更客觀地,更合理地理解中國的國情和文化。

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論辯論

    摘要:本文原本為《第二節全澳精英華語辯論公開賽》宣傳刊物。作者高林畢業於山東大學,目前就讀於澳大利亞國立大學亞太學院。其在華語辯論界有所成就,並且在第一節全澳辯論賽與《星島杯》多次獲得了”最佳辯手“的稱號。本文為其對辯論進行探討與反思的成果。
辯論

澳国立大学亚太学院东亚研究系主任马克斯特兰奇(右)为非母语组“最佳辩手”高林颁奖。《來源:人民日報》

辯論對我而言不僅是我的興趣愛好,他也是對我思想上的一種考驗。首先說這個“論”字,辯論是語言表達最高境界的一個應用。不管是華語辯論還是英語辯論,用非母語辯論還是用母語辯論,辯論重點不在於語言,而是在與個人的思想與邏輯。我本人參與英語辯論已經有十幾年了,參與華語辯論也有四年的時間。辯論比賽中真正能夠“論”的辯手,一定是在比賽之前從雙方不同的角度對辯題進行了非常深刻的思考與剖析。這就是辯論中的“論”。而“辯”這個字與“論”是相配的。孔子曰:“學而不思則罔,思而不學則殆。”能夠思考問題,卻不會表達、解釋並且對他人質疑之處不能做出抗辯的人,那麼他和不會思考的沒什麼兩樣。 “辯”需要語言技巧,需要靈活運用,也要讓大家對辯論題目有一個新的看法和認識。辯論是思想、心理和語言的結合,是個人與大眾的結合。陰陽相互依存,辯論也不例外。辯論中學到的知識、技巧與思維方式,不管是學業、工作還是思考人生,一定是會用得到的。

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