China is a last minute country. The issue is not so much time keeping – arriving on time – as late arrangements. I wrote about how trains can only be booked a few days in advance. There might be an underlying logic to it. People wouldn’t bother booking them early, anyway. Because everything is constantly shuffled and rescheduled.
For some reason, this is correlated with a state of permanent distraction. People always forget things, or forget to tell you things. Is it the education system? A coping mechanism in such a complex environment ? Or just laziness? In any case, to the outsider, it makes the situation worse.
Coming from a culture where everything is planned in advance, this constant emergency reaction proved extremely tiring – at work in particular. I’ve always thought arranging everything at the last minute was a form of tyranny. To push their agenda, those in power – in private, corporate or public settings – use ’emergency management’. If something is urgent, there is no time for negotiation and patient discussion. Things have to move, now, and Executive decisions have to be followed.
For some reason, the state of affairs was reminiscent of Paris. And I think I found a key to the French – or Latin – character; why French people are so attracted to Napoleonic ‘strong man’ figures. Why they will prefer to ‘follow Republican rules’, rather than engage in ‘Democratic debate’. Because democracy takes time, and effort, and foreward planning. Whereas you can be lazy all you like when things don’t have to be debated and discussed. You can live the moment fully. Then a wave of emergency comes; and you just obey.