I tend to jokingly refer to the Chinese as the Chinese Master Race, which is partly an allusion to the Nazis referring to the Japanese and Chinese as “honorary Aryans” or “Aryans of the East”, but also a reflection on the stellar results of many Asian countries in standardized test scores. Yet, you really need to view this issue more critically. One, China is an enormous country. If you look at what the Western elites produce, with a much smaller number of people, versus the Chinese, you have to conclude that, at the very least, the Chinese intellectual elites are not well utilized. A more critical assessment is that they are not as smart as they would like to be. In the case of China, such a conclusion would certainly be more difficult to arrive at than with India, which is a bona fide third-world country, yet for at least a quarter of a century has been claimed to be the next superpower. Well, with a national average IQ of around 80 you just can’t get very far. Support of this is the fact that the Indian Institutes of Technology, which are very selective, don’t produce much. They take in the top 2% or so of students, but the top 2% in India has an IQ of around 100, which would not suffice to get you through a STEM degree at a proper Western university. (That doesn’t mean that there are no highly intelligent Indians. However, their numbers are simply rather limited.)
Anyway, back to the Chinese or, in the case of Singapore, the ethnic Chinese. Arguably for cultural reasons, there is an enormous pressure on the Chinese to conform. Critical thinking and independence seem to get squashed out at an early age. They are arguably masters at rote learning. Yet, there are very few genuinely eminent Chinese scientists on the world stage, given the size of the population. Turning our attention back to Singapore, it is noteworthy that the government laments the lack of entrepreneurship and actively supports the startup scene. The local startup scene is enthralled with genuine bullshit like the blockchain. I can’t think of any internationally important home-grown company. In comparison, a country as small as Sweden has given Volvo, ABB, IKEA, Scania, and a few tech unicorns like Spotify and King to the world, in addition to being a significant exporter of pop music. One of if not the top producer of contemporary popular music is a Swede, by the way, and so is the most subscribed YouTuber. In comparison, Singapore is seemingly little more than a conveniently located tax haven for international corporations. The most disparaging remark I heard in that regard was someone calling Singapore “the willing mistress of multinational corporations.” Replace “willing mistress” with an expression a bit more blunt, please.
An issue that is discussed elsewhere in this series, but which deserves to be brought up in this context as well as that the Singaporean school system, in comparison with the wider society, seems to produce incredibly meek men. Even the body language of many boys is genuinely off-putting. When it comes to raising cucked sons, Asian culture is surely giving the West a run for its money. On the plus side, youth delinquency is unknown in Singapore, while the West puberty is the time to drink, do drugs, and vandalize.
Superstitions are one clear example of a cultural artifact that holds back society. In that regard, the Chinese seem incredibly burdened. I grew up in a very conservative and highly religious part of Germany, so I got exposed to more than my fair share of backward superstitious beliefs. Yet, the Chinese crank it up to 11. For instance, in temples you can buy little pieces of paper with good luck charms, which are supposed to bring you good luck if you burn them. You can burn them on the street, in contraptions like this one:
Or this one, if you think that bigger is better:
Then, there are traditions like the Hungry Ghost Festival where you put food out on the sidewalk, on which the ghosts of your deceased ancestors are supposed to feast on. Of course, this attracts rats and all kinds of vermin instead, but in the end it’s all good because your dead grand-grand-grand-grandfather surely appreciated the offerings. If you want to be genuinely irrational, you can buy kits of empty boxes that ape modern consumer electronics. Surely, your ancestors appreciate a burnt box with a “Samsong” print and the picture of a generic smartphone on it. If you thought that this only affected common people, you’d be wrong. In fact, during the last recession, the Singapore government sought help from a feng shui “expert”, who told them that in order to overcome the recession, every Singaporean should carry an octagon. You may shrug, but the outcome was the octagonal one-dollar coin. Here’s a picture:
I think the Chinese could be the clearly dominant race on the planet. However, their meekness arguably holds them back. That being said, there is a long tradition of the elites sending their kids to the West for higher education, possibly partly due to the promise of fostering greater independence. Indeed, this is a hallmark of the university system in the United Kingdom, at least at top schools. Possibly for this reason, but also due to perhaps antiquated notions of prestige, many gifted young Singaporeans study abroad, preferably in the United States or the United Kingdom, instead of at local universities. Yet, Nanyang University of Technology (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) are genuine world-class institutions. Strangely enough, there is the perception that even schools like Durham, Warwick or King’s College London are more prestigious than NTU or NUS. This is in stark contrast to contemporary university league tables, but it may reflect a perception from decades past. I fully subscribe to the notion that Oxford and Cambridge are more elite than NTU and NUS, and if you have the chance to go there on a scholarship, you should. In general, though, Asians seem to have a collective hard-on for the better UK schools, which may not always be justified.
On that note, the founder and first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, sent his son to study mathematics and computer science at Cambridge. Yet, that son, Singapore’s current prime minister, sent his two sons to study in the US. I think they both did computer science at MIT. Arguably, if you are good enough to get into MIT, you’re good enough to get into Cambridge, so this may indicate a certain shift in the preferences of the societal elites. From my perspective, growing up in Germany, I gained the impression that sending your kids to the United States was more of a status boost than sending them to the United Kingdom simply because the former cost more money, due to the explosion of tuition fees — at that time, tuition fees in the UK were only around a 1,000 pounds a year, if I recall correctly. Yes, I know that’s petty, but that’s how some people size up each other. In terms of education, the supervision system at Oxbridge is unmatched. On the other hand, there is a lot more money and a much stronger sense of entrepreneurship at a place like MIT or Stanford. Today, though, the issue is that the left has been ruining universities in the West, so if you’re sending your kids to college in “the current year”, a better bet may be a solid technical university in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Taiwan, or South Korea. I certainly would like my sons to further their appreciation for hard work as opposed to growing a bleeding heart.
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4 thoughts on “Experiencing Singapore (14): The Chinese Master Race?”
“Germans should find this oven in public very non-PC”
Yeah… math is not their strength. Two dozens of ovens in total, one and a half years in service and 6 million alleged cremations at an average time of 2h per body just don’t add up. But who needs logic if we can virtue signal the shit out of any argument, nicht wahr?
Hahahahaha. Aaron. You’re hilarious. Chinese? Master race? They’re ugly! I would know. I’m half Chinese and most of the Chinese in the US are ridiculously weak. We both know it’s all about looks!
“Yet, there are very few genuinely eminent Chinese scientists on the world stage”