China Investment Corporation to Europe: Too much welfare has made you slothful and indolent, but you can turn it round

Straight talking from Jin Liqun, head honcho of the Chinese Investment Corporation (China’s sovereign wealth fund). He hits us straight between the eyes speaking to Channel 4

The root cause of trouble is the overburdened welfare system, built up since the second World War in Europe – the sloth inducing, indolence inducing labour laws.

It has to be said, I warmed to the old boy, both for his refreshing directness, and also for his manner. He seemed genuinely puzzled how a region like Europe which has achived much in the past could persistently screw up in the way it is doing. Jin Liqun speaks from 4:31 in the video below, and he really did say sloth inducing ๐Ÿ™‚

I was reminded of his words when I read this curious article in the DT on “Teenagers failing to study tough subjects”ย  What counts as a tough subject, I wondered – they are

English, maths, science, languages and either history or geography

So what the heck are they studying? I can’t think of any subject I could have taken at 16 that isn’t covered there, with the exception of art and music. At school these “tough subjects” were the only subjects available to me! Okay, so they broke out science into Physics, Chemistry and Biology then, and English into English Language and English Literature which is how I got to do 10 O levels. Sadly the DT didn’t enlighten me what people are taking at 16 instead, I have the feeling that this may have something to do with Jin Liqun’s wry observations.



13 thoughts on “China Investment Corporation to Europe: Too much welfare has made you slothful and indolent, but you can turn it round”

  1. Dear Chinese Investment Corporation,

    Thanks for the advice. Good idea. We’ve cut back a bit on the welfare.

    We also noticed that we are suffering mass unemployment, yet we are importing lots of cheap stuff from you, keeping employment growing in China. How is that working out for you?

    Oh, and by the way, about that money you lent us…

    Western Sloths


  2. Dear Western Sloths

    Touchรฉ sir. The doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction has served you before, I believe.

    While we will grow old before even you lot in Europe, you need to crack on with your skills if you want those jobs back.



  3. The “soft” subjects include D&T, ICT, RE, Psychology, Sociology and many others. Part of the problem is the habit of comprehensive schooling to academicise vocational subjects and to bring onto the curriculum subjects best studied at university (and thus trivialised). Remember that O-levels were only ever supposed to be taken by around 25% of the population, although, in practice it was more.


  4. aha – actually RE did exist in my school, called Divinity ISTR. However, I am sure they didn’t let anybdy take O levels in it ๐Ÿ™‚ None of the others. A sort of ICT was on a dial-up acoustic modem and punched paper tape teletypewriter to the North East London Polytechnic’s mainframe, but lumped in with Physics – the joys of having teachers who had some flexibility in their curriculum.

    Maybe CSEs had the softer subjects then…


  5. “English, maths, science, languages and either history or geography”

    Erm, yes, totally agree — this IS the curriculum, or rather it WAS when I was at school … cough cough … decades ago ๐Ÿ˜‰ With three sciences in which you could actually DO things… I remember making DDT (I’m ashamed now, of course…) and staging thermite reactions – we got hell for that when the teacher got back from sick leave ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Maybe CSEs had the softer subjects thenโ€ฆ” Maybe – at our school Eng Lit was done as a CSE as it was decided that this gave a better preparation for the A-level than the O-level Eng Lit. It was one of the two CSEs I took alongside O-levels – the other was ‘Art, Craft and Design’ for which I proudly attained a ‘U’ grade ๐Ÿ™‚

    I had to give up history as it wouldn’t fit in with three sciences and two foreign languages. Still, that left me something interesting to chase up later in life once I realised how uneducated I was in that field.

    I did take sociology O level — as a night class in the first year of A levels (because four A levels and a City and Guilds weren’t stretching me enough…) Of course this was in the days when a ‘computer’ had a few rows of beads on a frame ๐Ÿ˜‰

    By the time my friends started having kids and they reached their teenage years I was amazed how uneducated they were. They were struggling with concepts we had down pat in short trousers. But I think we’ve been there before, grade inflation, none so dim they can’t have their self esteem boosted by an unwarranted certificate etc etc. And 51% attending University! By definition that means we’re now awarding degrees to people of below-average intelligence… Yet another area where we’ve debased the currency.

    And now we have an entitled generation more than happy to sit on their parents’ laurels and castigate all those foreigners who are so unfairly beating them by working harder and enduring a lower standard of living. Oh, the tragedy!


  6. Oh, the sloth ! Of course, what the Chinese never point out is that those slothful welfare states subsidize Chinese industry and, in effect, transfer European technology to those economic maverick mandarins at the head of the Chinese Economic Miracle, the Chinese Communist Party. The very essence of sloth. Let’s not forget that Chou Q. Public in China is beginning to assert his right to independent trade unions and other accoutrementes of these slothful Western welfare states. When that happens maybe western youth might become somewhat more interested in their education because it may bring with it a future of job opportunities. Let’s not get too “Calvinist” here.


  7. Why is it that every emerging economy that finally gets a taste of success suddenly gloats and casts aspersions on “down in the mouth” Western democracies? Canada’s doing great, but that shouldn’t give us any reason to gloat when 1 in 5 Canadians is living in “poverty” ( Canadian poverty, not Chinese poverty ).Back in the 70’s the Japanese, the Singaporeans and others were doing the same thing. ‘America in Decline!” “Moral Decay!” the headlines screamed. Japanese was going to be the new “lingua franca”. Where are they today, these morally superior super states ? I’m just waiting for the second Chinese Revolution. Wait till that goes down !


  8. G, I think you’ll find it was our journalists going there and looking for people to say similar things that led to those headlines.

    Sure people have opinions about us. We have opinions about them. I don’t think they have some massive agenda their promoting in the headlines though.


  9. Dear M: Maybe you should check out Chinese TV sometime. I’m not suggesting they have an agenda or that they even really know where the hell they’re headed, but I just get tired of hearing about the moral decay of the West. Yes, the world’s going to hell in a handbasket. It’s been going that way for most of the last 40 years or so, but it doesn’t give the guys who are contributing just as much to its demise, the right to make comments about Western “immorality”.China may end up going down the tubes within the next decade, if not sooner, and they have a lot less skid room than the “corrupted” West.


  10. As someone who is half Chinese and whose late father was Hokkien Chinese from Malaysia, I think its worth pointing out that this sort of parternalistic attitude from old Chinese men is normal behaviour(even the way he was waving his finger at the reporter reminded me of Dad).

    The media is *always* complaining about moral decline there not just in the “west” but at their own youths and their own society.

    The same is found in the media of any Oriental nation, and similarly in the centre right media in most European nations, the only difference is we have a supposedly more free media and less overt censorship than even 20 years ago which has led to us being much more blatant about hedonistic or “slothful” behaviour, perhaps more to so than is the reality – I do think that both the Chinese chap is confusing France and Southern Europe with the whole EU (and the UK in somewhere in the middle on the “sloth” scale) and I am dubious about the Telegraph report – whilst GCSE standards may have declined the

    However the Chinese are *not* by any means “Calvinists” but its much more a “work hard, play hard” culture.

    Dad managed to raise two children, move from a rented house in SE London to a semi detatched in an affluent part of SE England, own a succession of reasonable motor cars, and hold down one, sometimes two jobs whilst subsisting for many years on a diet of booze, fags and benzodiazepines and was also very much interested in music, photography and gadgets.

    This lifestyle unfortunately finished him off by his late 50s (aso I can understand the drawbacks – but the Chinese guy may well have a point over the lack of practical / academic skills of European youth in comparison to those in China.

    its not that the Chinese youth *don’t* spend weekends clubbing, popping pills and playing computer games (its now easier to get a rave licensed in CN than here in Ipswich – perhaps that *was* the Chinese “second revolution” – but in part because of the lack of welfare safety net but also the family values, they they tend not to bunk off school/college or pull a sickie at work on the Monday.

    They are still berated for their behaviour but as it has less impact on the economy its grudgingly endured – no different to how the hedonism of 1990s England was tolerated for a bit amongthe middle classes.

    There is nothing “morally” superior about what is going on there – in West or East this lifestyle if taken to extremes predictably also results in workplace and traffic accidents, mental health issues, and even suicides and domestic violence incidents – but its simple and brutal social Darwinism – if the Chinese are getting a bit more “edjumacation” or even being taught at work how to use a soldering iron and/or can handle a 12 hour shift in a factory and young people in European nations do not do so its obvious the Chinese will still come out ahead.

    As for Japan and Singapore – though JP has had a lot of social and economic problems (not least of which a quarter of the country destroyed by an earthquake and nuclear radiation leaks) ) it still remains a relatively prosperous nation, and SG certainly isn’t one of the most “fun” places to live in but neither is it unstable or dangerous in comparison to its neighbouring SE Asian nations. SG invests a lot of money in UK businesses, particularly the remaining manufacturing and chemical industries (as they actually trust us more than the mainland Chinese not to blow the labs sky high from ignoring basic safety rules). Ironically a lot of mainland Chinese try to enter SG illegally!


  11. a bit was missing from the last post, should have read “whilst GCSE standards have declined I would be highly surprised if core subjects have been abandoned across the whole of the UK with just one news report about this, or even young peoples themsemves mentioning it”.


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