Pilant's Business Ethics

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Japan Arms Up

Japan map CIA fact bookJapan Arms Up

It is obvious to the most casual observer that China’s actions in the South China Sea are fueling tensions in the region. Japan has been adding to its fleet, and I don’t doubt that we will see bigger warships and larger aircraft in the next few years.

Why is this in a business ethics web site?

That’s easy. American institutions like corporations and investment banks willingness to provide money and investment to a crass totalitarian government carries risks. China’s bellicose foreign policy demonstrates just how big that risk is. In the event of a showdown with the United States and its allies, what’s going to happen to hundreds of billions of dollars of investment?

We were told and continue to be told what a great place for investment, China is.

Yeah, just keep repeating that. But watch the news, and count how many carriers the Chinese now have (three).

James Pilant

Japan should reverse course on defense policy, panel says | Al Jazeera America

A government panel will urge Japan to allow its military to help allies that come under attack, a major reversal of the country’s ban on collective defense under its pacifist constitution. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants Japan to play a greater role in international peacekeeping and step up its defense posture, citing potential military threats from China and North Korea.

via Japan should reverse course on defense policy, panel says | Al Jazeera America.

From around the web.

From the web site, Consortium of Defense Analysts.


Discreetly, the Japanese aren’t boasting much about the 19,500-ton Izumo, which should be ready for action in two years, but Japan’s success in producing such a vessel may diminish the Chinese challenge to Japanese control over the disputed Senkaku islands, Diaoyu to the Chinese. No one doubts that Japanese shipyards, after decades producing some of the biggest, most sophisticated commercial vessels, could turn out still more in the Izumo class – and go up in class to full-fledged aircraft carriers.

China Attacks Academic Freedom

English: China, Peking

English: China, Peking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

China Attacks Academic Freedom

Shouldn’t this case cast a little doubt on so many American Universities’ desire to build branches in China? Won’t they insist on running schools in their country they way they run the current ones?

After all, they are communists who run a dictatorship.

Yes, that is not a nice thing to say, and the fact that literally thousands of American corporations are aiding and abetting this regime is regrettable but under free market fundamentalism perfectly understandable.

I mean, does it really matter if the nation is an enemy of democracy when there is money to be made?

The business ethics implications are fascinating but largely undiscussed. For all you students out there, this is primo paper territory. If you want to write something controversial, this is where to go. Think of it, business ethics and American Investment in the Chinese economy. If I were you, I would start the story by going back to China just a few years after the Great Cultural Revolution as its economy lurched from one disaster to another. Start the story there and then begin the American involvement, investment and then sharing patents and partnerships. Compare job losses in the U.S. to job gains in China. Discuss the willingness of the Chinese government to simply not bother with environmental and worker safety problems. Put in some material on a couple of the bigger coal mine disasters. Faculty love stories. Then, when you reach the end, wonder out loud if the regime could have survived with American corporate money. I bet it’s a solid A. (If you would like to see it published once it is written, send me an e-mail – we can work something out!)

James Pilant

SHANGHAI: China’s Peking University fires professor who criticized government | Asia | McClatchy DC


One of China’s top universities has notified an economics professor known for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government that his colleagues have voted to expel him from the institution.The move against Xia Yeliang, who teaches at Peking University in Beijing, appears to reflect a crackdown on liberal academics that’s become more severe since President Xi Jinping came to power in March.Several well-known universities – including the London School of Economics and Yale and Cornell in the United States – have partnerships with Peking, though few have taken up Xia’s cause. Other institutions, including New York University and Duke University, have opened campuses in China recently or are about to amid worries that they’ll sacrifice academic freedom for the sometimes lucrative opportunity to partner with Chinese institutions.

via SHANGHAI: China’s Peking University fires professor who criticized government | Asia | McClatchy DC.

From around the web.

From the web site, educhina.


The news quickly spread out through internet with the titles like “high school student changes the speech under the national flag” or “high school student criticizes education system” and caused heated discussion among Chinese netizens in Sina microblog as well as in other social networking sites. Many people thought Chenbo Jiang was courageous to speak out the “truth” and they agreed that Chinese education was problematic. On April 20th, 2012, Nanfang People’s magazine, an influential weekly magazine of Southern China Press, published a commentary on this event. The report compares Chenbo Jiang to the boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes who points out the truth that no one wants to acknowledge.

Students United, the International Student Movement

international student movement

International Joint Statement | International Student Movement

International Joint Statement

Around the world over the past decade students, pupils, teachers, parents and employees have been protesting against the increasing commercialization and privatization of public education, and fighting for free and emancipatory education.

Many of us use the International Student Movement as a self-managed platform initiated to exchange information, to network and to co-ordinate protests at both the international and the global levels. Since the ISM platform was initiated in November 2008 various global days and weeks of action were coordinated.
We strive for structures based on direct participation and non-hierarchical organization through collective discussion and action. Anyone who identifies with the struggle against the privatization of public education, and for free and emancipatory education can join and participate on as well as shape the platform!

The following aims unite us worldwide:

What are we struggling against?

  • The effects of the current economic system on people and education systems:
    → tuition fees or any form of fees which exclude people from accessing and equally participating in education
    → student debt
    → public education aligned to serve the (labour) market;

    The so called Bologna-Process (as with its counterparts around the world) is aimed at implementing education systems that primarily train people in skills serving the labour market. It promotes the reduction of costs for training a person, shortens the length of time spent studying, and produces underqualified workforces.

    → turning education into a commodity as part of the commodification of all aspects of life
    → the significant and increasing influence of business interests on basic budgets for public education
    → the significant and increasing budget cuts on public education worldwide
    → the privatisation of public funds through the subsidisation of private educational institutions
    → the commodification and exploitation of labor within educational institutions

  • We stand against discrimination and exclusion within any educational institution based on:
    → socio-economic background, for instance by charging fees so that people with less money can’t participate equally
    → nationality
    → performance and academic record
    → political ideologies and activities
    → gender
    → sexual orientation
    → religion
    → ethnic background
    → skin colour
  • We stand against the prioritisation of research towards commercially valuable patents rather than open knowledge freely available to all
    → Public educational institutions are increasingly forced to compete for private sponsorships to do (basic) research; at the same time private funds tend to be invested into research promising to be profitable, leading to a decline in funding for areas of research which may be important but not deemed economically lucrative. Educational institutions and participants are evaluated on the basis of economic profitability and often compete to receive additional public funding based on this criteria.
  • We stand against the prioritisation of income-generating research grants ahead of education and basic research
  • Activities for the army within educational institutions:
    → no research specifically for military purposes
    → no recruiting and advertising activities for the army

What are we struggling for?

    → free and emancipatory education as a human right. Education should primarily work for the emancipation of the individual, which means: being enabled to critically reflect and understand the power structures and environment surrounding him-/herself. Education must not only enable the emancipation of the individual but society as a whole
    → education as a public good serving public interests
    → academic freedom and choice: freedom to pursue any educational discipline
    → free from monetary mechanisms of payment by participants and any kind of discrimination and exclusion and therefore freely accessible to all individuals
    → sufficient funding for all public educational institutions, whether they are deemed profitable or not
    → all educational entities/institutions should be democratically structured, meaning direct participation from below as a basis for decision making processes

Why on the local and global level?

The impacts of the current global economic system create struggles worldwide. While applying local pressure to influence our individual local/regional politics and legislation, we must always be aware of the global and structural nature of our problems and learn from each other’s tactics, experiences in organizing, and theoretical knowledge. Short-term changes may be achieved on the local level, but great change will only happen if we unite globally.

Education systems worldwide do what they are intended to do within the economic and state system(s): select for, train and create ignorance and submission. We unite for a different education system and a different life.

We stand united against any sort of repression by governments worldwide directed at people involved in the struggle for free and emancipatory education.

The following groups and individuals support this statement, pledge to spread it, and to get actively involved in efforts to network and unite education activist groups worldwide in the future.

Wish to support this statement by having your (group) name listed below? Just send an e-mail to: united.for.education@gmail.com

~ one world – one struggle ~

International Joint Statement | International Student Movement

Students around the world have many common interests. In many nations, austerity policies are damaging the social fabric including education. That kind of investment in a nation’s future is the last place one should look for broad cuts.

I have watched in horror as our college students are priced out of many educational options, saddled with enormous debts when they do go to college and in a poorly regulated market are often overcharged for degrees with little use.

I believe that education is the bedrock value for a civilized society with a view toward future generations. We must look to our children’s future.

Financing education on the backs of our students is an American innovation. We transfer what used to be a common burden, a common investment, into personal debt. It is a national tragedy.

But also we see a constant drumbeat for an education suited only for the job market. That is only one element of the educational process. We who teach are also in the business of creating critical thinkers, good citizens and human beings who can live full lives with an appreciation of art, culture and history.

In 1841, European student went to the barricades and fought for a more just society. Ever since students have been in the forefront of challenging society to live up to its highest values.

I believe in the future. I believe in it not because of the continuing horror of American politics but because I teach students that I believe in, that I have faith in, and that I am willing to trust the future of this nation with.

James Alan Pilant

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Foxconn Cheaps Out

Foxconn says underage workers used in China plant | Reuters

Foxconn, the trading name of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, said it had found some interns at a plant in Yantai, in northeastern Shandong province, were under the legal working age of 16. It did not say how many were underage.

“Our investigation has shown that the interns in question, who ranged in age from 14 to 16, had worked in that campus for approximately three weeks,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This is not only a violation of China’s labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions.”

China’s official Xinhua news agency, citing an unnamed Yantai government official, said that 56 underage interns would be brought back to their schools.

The students had been employed after Foxconn asked the development zone in which the factory is located to help solve a labor shortage last month, when they were needed to make up a shortfall of 19,000 workers, Xinhua added.

Foxconn is Apple Inc’s largest manufacturing partner, and also makes products for Dell Inc, Sony Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co among its other clients. It said the Yantai plant does not make Apple products.

Foxconn says underage workers used in China plant | Reuters


Underage workers in the corporate heaven of Foxconn

There is the funny thing in economics called supply and demand. It would seem to dictate that you raise pay or benefits to attract new workers. But Foxconn doesn’t believe in the free market. They appealed to the government (that would be the development zone) for a little help in the form of permission to use 56 underage “interns.” They took them out of school, an undoubted benefit. I mean, who needs school when they could work long hours at tedious jobs for little pay. There is certainly a kind of education there, right?

I could talk about the business ethics of this situation. But how much analysis can you do? Underage workers, children used to evade having to raise salaries, manipulating the government for private gain – what part of this requires an extended analysis?

James Pilant

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Acting in China Offers Political Insights

English: Margaret Thatcher, former UK PM. Fran...

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes I find writing so striking and delightful that I want to share it with you.

This is from Salon’s web site and is written by Melissa Rayworth. She wants to convey the political insights she gained while acting in China.

Please, please go to the link at the bottom of the page and read the whole thing.

Sometimes, here in the U.S. we get that the impression that the Chinese want or are becoming like us. I don’t think so. Read and see what you think.

James Pilant

Playing Margaret Thatcher in China – The Iron Lady –  from Salon.com

Finally, they began to realize I wasn’t bluffing. Furious, the director summoned an assistant, who appeared with a bulging black leather case. Unzipping it, he pulled out thick wads of Chinese currency and counted out the cash. With my pay sitting in my backpack under those same ill-fitting shoes I wore tumbling down the steps at the Great Hall, I played my last scene as Margaret Thatcher.

Between takes, no one spoke. I’d proven them right about me – and about her. I had forced their director to negotiate with me, just like the Iron Lady had forced Deng. Face had been lost. My hope that playing this role might humanize Thatcher for Chinese audiences had failed. I had fallen down those steps for nothing.

Playing Margaret Thatcher in China – The Iron Lady – Salon.com

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Central, Hong Kong Pretty Girls – courtesy of HK newspaper Apple B.B. Daily (a lesson about freedom of press) (via Kempton – ideas Revolutionary)

Is it ethical to take pictures of pretty women (or anyone) without their permission to put in a newspaper?

I don’t think so but this is Hong Kong. What are the rules there? Read the attached article and enjoy.

James Pilant

Central, Hong Kong Pretty Girls - courtesy of HK newspaper Apple B.B. Daily (a lesson about freedom of press) *** Hong Kong Pretty Girls *** I am a keen observer of pretty girls in HK and around the world. Unfortunately today, against my better judgement, I will argue the Hong Kong newspaper Apple B.B. Daily should voluntarily stop taking photos of some of these pretty girls (中環我至靚) in Central, Hong Kong. Yes, some of these photos taking and publishing has to be stopped!  Especially many of the photos that I love the most. Isn’t this paradoxical? Lets lo … Read More

via Kempton – ideas Revolutionary

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China Moves Aggressively on Indian Border (via The Times of India)

From the Times of India, an article by Rajat Pandit.

Apart from nuclear missile bases in Qinghai province which clearly target India, China has built five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000 km of roads in Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

People’s Liberation Army is also rapidly upgrading several other airstrips in TAR as well as south China, to add to the five airbases from where Chinese Sukhoi-27UBK and Sukhoi-30MKK fighters have practised operations in recent times.

Moreover, with extensive road-rail links in TAR, PLA can amass upwards of two divisions (30,000 soldiers) at their “launch pads” along the border in just 20 days now compared to the over 90 days it took earlier.

Why do I have to go to the Times of India to read about the Chinese building up their forces on the border?

What does this say about the security of American manufacturing and investment in Communist China?

China is never going to be the number one economic power on earth. They have territorial ambitions and scores to settle dating back hundreds of years.

In ten years, Americans confronted with the Chinese military ambitions will look back in astonishment that China was held in awe by scores of business commentators, politicians and what we laughingly call pundits.

Can you imagine the awe of future Americans that businesses in the United States thought it was a good idea to shift American jobs to China. .. that Americans built manufacturing plants and share technology including their latest patents with the Chinese?

Our relationship is already fraying in consideration of Chinese currency controls, their treatment of dissidents and a naval build up largely aimed at the United States Navy.

We will be dealing with China in the future, less economically and more as a military problem.

James Pilant

Revolution talk spurs China to block LinkedIn (via SFGate)

Whoa, I thought China was the wave of the future? Gonna’ be the biggest economic power on earth just any day now.

So, the great Chinese Communist Goliath is shaking in its jack boots over a social networking service with one million customers out of China’s tiny population of one point two billion.

Yeah, I lay awake at night worrying about the inevitable Chinese economic hegemony.

James Pilant

From SFGate – (San Francisco Chronicle)

LinkedIn Corp. was being blocked in parts of China on Thursday after members in that country began using the professional social networking service to discuss the revolutions that have toppled governments in the Middle East.

The Mountain View company doesn’t have a major presence in China, which has about 1 million of LinkedIn’s 90 million members worldwide.

However, the blockage may be further evidence that the Chinese government is now even less willing to reopen its firewall to social networks Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., which have played key roles in anti-government upheavals spreading through the Middle East.

“What would they have to do to become less threatening than LinkedIn currently is?” said Andy Smith, a social media marketing expert in Lafayette.

CSR statements are easy; sustainable procurement is harder (via Fair For All)

I have written before about my doubts as to China’s coming status as the number one economic power. These kinds of articles and posting tend to reinforce my beliefs.

My great thanks to “Fair For All.”

CSR statements are easy; sustainable procurement is harder As Dell and HP have discovered this month, it’s a lot easier to write a CSR policy than it is to ensure that it is carried through. Their plight is not uncommon and is the unfortunate result of treating CSR as a public relations function, focused on appearance and not on substance. To be credible, CSR needs to be built into the operations of a business, which r … Read More

via Fair For All

A Lecture by Richard D. Wolff (Concerning Our Current Economic Crisis)

Our Economic Crisis

Our Economic Crisis

A Lecture by Richard D. Wolff (Concerning Our Current Economic Crisis)

I found these lectures online and very much enjoyed them. These lectures are given by Richard D Wolff. Certainly the topics of the global capitalist economic crisis and austerity programs touches both good and bad business ethics.

James Pilant

This quote comes with the video –

These Tuesday evenings will each begin with an update and analysis of major economic events of the last month and their contexts of longer-term economic trends shaping politics and society here and abroad. We will focus on the evolving global capitalist economic crisis and its consequences. We will examine topics such as the social costs effects of the historic long-term US unemployment, national debt crises and “austerity programs” in Greece, Ireland, Spain, and beyond changes in today’s Chinese economy and their global effects, tax reform and the entire tax issue in the US today, continuing crisis in the US housing and credit markets the economics of immigration.

These are the first four


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