Friday, March 30, 2018

Navarro Seeks Spotlight by Bashing China

Two years ago I interviewed international business consultant and frequent contributor to the Asia Times, Dr. George Koo.
Recently, Dr. Koo was mystified that President Trump's National Trade Advisor, and one of the leading candidates to head the National Economic Council--Dr. Peter Navarro-- was bashing China. He went looking into Dr. Navarro's background. I want to share some excerpts from Dr. Koo's  article.  (Comments in parenthesis are mine.) 

"I went for answers to Professor John Graham, who had been Navarro’s colleague at the University of California at Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. He joined the faculty in 1989, the same year as Navarro. Graham said. 'In sum, the three books he’s written about China are xenophobic trash. They contain some truths, but Navarro cherry-picks the data to prove his points. Ultimately it’s nothing but yellow journalism.' Graham went on to say, 'Navarro has no first-hand familiarity of China, doesn’t show any understanding of China and doesn’t speak Chinese. When asked how many times he’s been to China, he evades and doesn’t answer.'...Graham speculated that perhaps Navarro was motivated by TV exposure; his books and video documentary were calculated to get him media attention.

"(Despite Navarro's lack of knowledge, he published) several China-related books, and decided to create his own course on China relations, named, 'China and the Global Order.' When Benjamin Leffel, a China specialist and sociology PhD student at UC Irvine, became aware of Navarro’s writings, he reached out to him and questioned his views.The meeting led to Navarro asking Leffel to act as the counterweight in his China class. Leffel created most of the syllabus using respected academic material in China studies, Navarro’s contribution being his own book and documentary....Leffel exhaustively corrected the falsehoods and exaggerations found in Navarro’s material....

"...During the 2016 presidential election, Navarro co-authored with Wilbur Ross an economic plan for the upcoming administration of Donald Trump. A public letter from 370 economists, including 19 Nobel laureates, labeled the plan an unmitigated disaster. Despite such condemnation, Navarro now stands as the key economic whisperer to President Trump....

"...Charlie Cook, a nationally recognized political analyst, met Navarro once and vividly remembers him as one of the most obnoxious political candidates he has ever met. In one election post-mortem (Navarro ran unsuccessfully FIVE TIMES for various offices in San Diego) Navarro admitted, 'I don’t have any concerns at all about making stuff up about my opponent that isn’t exactly true.'

"...When asked why he began to pay attention to China, his reply was that it was that he had noticed some of his students were losing jobs to China. Factory workers might lose jobs when plants shut down, but MBA students don’t lose jobs to China. Nice try, Peter.

"...Now Navarro is part of the team steering US economic policy. It’s too early to tell whether he will be a mere transitory blip in history or an unmitigated disaster as feared by many. If Trump really listens to him, only the Almighty can save us."

For the full article, see Navarro's Snake Oil Will Sicken The World.
 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sharing Opportunity with Eighty Grandchildren

Retired UCSF Pharmacology Professor Nancy Ma and Internist Peter Lee both fled from China for different reasons. However, recently they created the foundation WuWei Harmony which does projects with China. 
Nancy was born in Shanghai during the 1940s. Her father worked as Asian General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive, a wonderful position...until the Communists took over in 1949.  He fled first to Hong Kong, a British territory back then. The rest of the family , however, could not get exit visas. (See post one.) After seven years of waiting, they finally managed to get to Hong Kong. (See post two.) 
Husband Peter fled from China for different reasons. His parents were part of the Nationalist Army that fought against the Japanese from 1937-45 and then the Communists from 1945-49. (See post three.) While Peter was safe from Communism, he realized upon college graduation that there weren't many job opportunities. Fortunately, he got a scholarship at the University of Texas. (See post four.) Meanwhile, Nancy struggled in Hong Kong. Her mother enrolled her in a Cantonese/English high school, two languages Nancy did not understand. Nancy only lasted three days. (See post five.)But she did well in college, and managed to get a scholarship to Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas. (see post six.) She started looking for a job, and ended up getting her Ph.D. (see post seven.) In 1981, when Nancy was a Professor of Pharmacology, China came knocking on her door. Would she come give some professional speeches to the Beijing Medical School and the Chinese Academy of Sciences? Although wary, she agreed. She and Peter then returned again a decade later. By then her old hometown was barely recognizable due to construction and modernization. (See post eight.)
 Upon retirement, they met a colleague working to build schools in China, and they offered to help as well. They received VIP treatment anytime they were in the country. But, as soon as they left, they couldn't contact anyone related to the project, a project which entailed putting computers in classrooms. (See post nine.) There was great resistance to computers, as well as many other obstacles. (see post ten.) They went on to work instead doing micro-finance in Sichuan. Eight years ago, while on a visit to ensure that their finances were being properly used, they stumbled on a new problem: children who couldn't afford schooling. They immediately extended their hands to help. (See post eleven.) They soon discovered that poverty wasn't the only issue. Children whose parents had disappeared and who had no money had very low self-esteem. So, Nancy and Peter decided to exact academic excellence from the children they supported, promising them a future in college. It was only then they realized what a impossible promise that was. (see post twelve.) So they worked at raising the level of the village schools by skyping in lessons from a better school district. (see post thirteen and fourteen.)

So, Nancy and Peter started an excellent student scholarship program, to date with 80 students. They started televised teaching. They succeeded in getting computers in the county schools. Surely, they could sit back and relax now.
“We’re starting a third project now.” Nancy laughed. "While the students can all read English pretty well, they cannot speak or listen. "
So, again in order to make these village children competitive in the education system and in the world, Nancy and Peter are going  enlist the help of native speakers of English to skype lessons to the classrooms. 
“No textbook. No curriculum. Just conversation," Nancy said. "No religion. No politics. Just talk about daily life.” 
Nancy spends her afternoons composing e-mails to her kids. At midnight she often gets back the responses.  I said it was like she had an enormous extended family.
Grandma Ma and Grandpa Lee with their 80 grandchildren.
“I do,” she said. “I have eighty grandchildren.”
The children call her "Grandma Ma." They call Peter, "Grandpa Lee."
And these grandparents are vigilant, keeping track of all the ups and downs of the children’s lives. From the shy one who is now “like a bird out of a cage,” to the young man who failed his college entrance exam the first time and , upon Nancy’s insistence, tried again. (He got in.) There are heartbreaks upon heartbreaks—broken families, disinterested parents/grandparents, a lack of financial and emotional support. The Lees are always there to provide a gentle but firm guiding hand. 
“We’ve been very lucky,” said Nancy. “This country (the U.S.)  gave us opportunity. We want to give it to others.”

With gratitude to Nancy and Peter, this concludes this interview. 
By the way, if you can volunteer your English abilities, contact Nancy or Peter at  WuWei Harmony

Friday, March 23, 2018

Educating a Flock of Sheep

Retired UCSF Pharmacology Professor Nancy Ma and Internist Peter Lee both fled from China for different reasons. However, recently they created the foundation WuWei Harmony which does projects with China. 
Nancy was born in Shanghai during the 1940s. Her father worked as Asian General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive, a wonderful position...until the Communists took over in 1949.  He fled first to Hong Kong, a British territory back then. The rest of the family , however, could not get exit visas. (See post one.) After seven years of waiting, they finally managed to get to Hong Kong. (See post two.) 
Husband Peter fled from China for different reasons. His parents were part of the Nationalist Army that fought against the Japanese from 1937-45 and then the Communists from 1945-49. (See post three.) While Peter was safe from Communism, he realized upon college graduation that there weren't many job opportunities. Fortunately, he got a scholarship at the University of Texas. (See post four.) Meanwhile, Nancy struggled in Hong Kong. Her mother enrolled her in a Cantonese/English high school, two languages Nancy did not understand. Nancy only lasted three days. (See post five.)But she did well in college, and managed to get a scholarship to Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas. (see post six.) She started looking for a job, and ended up getting her Ph.D. (see post seven.) In 1981, when Nancy was a Professor of Pharmacology, China came knocking on her door. Would she come give some professional speeches to the Beijing Medical School and the Chinese Academy of Sciences? Although wary, she agreed. She and Peter then returned again a decade later. By then her old hometown was barely recognizable due to construction and modernization. (See post eight.)
 Upon retirement, they met a colleague working to build schools in China, and they offered to help as well. They received VIP treatment anytime they were in the country. But, as soon as they left, they couldn't contact anyone related to the project, a project which entailed putting computers in classrooms. (See post nine.) There was great resistance to computers, as well as many other obstacles. (see post ten.) They went on to work instead doing micro-finance in Sichuan. Eight years ago, while on a visit to ensure that their finances were being properly used, they stumbled on a new problem: children who couldn't afford schooling. They immediately extended their hands to help. (See post eleven.) They soon discovered that poverty wasn't the only issue. Children whose parents had disappeared and who had no money had very low self-esteem. So, Nancy and Peter decided to exact academic excellence from the children they supported, promising them a future in college. It was only then they realized what a impossible promise that was. (see post twelve.) So they worked at raising the level of the village schools by skyping in lessons from a better school district. (see post thirteen.)

Some of the teachers ended up  not only raising the proficiency of the students...but of themselves. They ended up becoming skilled enough to go teach in the city. Now, Nancy and Peter are spreading the Televised Teaching method to other schools. They had started with 7th grade. Now they are starting with 1st.  What’s great is to see is the buy-in of the county, they said. 
“At the beginning when we asked for a meeting,” Nancy said. “We got all kinds of excuses. ‘Oh, we’re in a meeting.’ Or, “We’re out of town.” This and that. Now, it’s like, ‘We have a meeting when? Come.’ Or, ‘Is there anything else you want us to do?’ We earned their trust and respect."
In fact Horse Saddle School  actually came to Nancy and Peter and asked them to do the Televised Teaching.  (Nancy and Peter always insist that the funding is shared on a 30/70 basis, with the schools  and county board of education picking up the latter.) But the principal only offered to fund the teaching for the top two classes.
“Each grade has ten classes,” Nancy explained. “They put the best students in the first two classes. And the rest of the eight classes, we call it fang yang.”
“A flock of sheep,” explained Peter. “Roaming around getting grass here and there.” 
In other words, the hopeless ones.
Nancy and Peter said they would only come if all of the teachers in all of the classes levels 1-10 would participate. It took the principal almost two years, but he finally got everyone on board, and agreed to fund this program even for the flocks of sheep.
“We can see the students are getting better. Their grades are getting better. The kind of material they’re learning is much more like a true education."

(To be continued. Next: Sharing Opportunity With Eighty Grandchildren)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pulling the Elderly Card

Retired UCSF Pharmacology Professor Nancy Ma and Internist Peter Lee both fled from China for different reasons. However, recently they created the foundation WuWei Harmony which does projects with China. 
Nancy was born in Shanghai during the 1940s. Her father worked as Asian General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive, a wonderful position...until the Communists took over in 1949.  He fled first to Hong Kong, a British territory back then. The rest of the family , however, could not get exit visas. (See post one.) After seven years of waiting, they finally managed to get to Hong Kong. (See post two.) 
Husband Peter fled from China for different reasons. His parents were part of the Nationalist Army that fought against the Japanese from 1937-45 and then the Communists from 1945-49. (See post three.) While Peter was safe from Communism, he realized upon college graduation that there weren't many job opportunities. Fortunately, he got a scholarship at the University of Texas. (See post four.) Meanwhile, Nancy struggled in Hong Kong. Her mother enrolled her in a Cantonese/English high school, two languages Nancy did not understand. Nancy only lasted three days. (See post five.)But she did well in college, and managed to get a scholarship to Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas. (see post six.) She started looking for a job, and ended up getting her Ph.D. (see post seven.) In 1981, when Nancy was a Professor of Pharmacology, China came knocking on her door. Would she come give some professional speeches to the Beijing Medical School and the Chinese Academy of Sciences? Although wary, she agreed. She and Peter then returned again a decade later. By then her old hometown was barely recognizable due to construction and modernization. (See post eight.)
 Upon retirement, they met a colleague working to build schools in China, and they offered to help as well. They received VIP treatment anytime they were in the country. But, as soon as they left, they couldn't contact anyone related to the project, a project which entailed putting computers in classrooms. (See post nine.) There was great resistance to computers, as well as many other obstacles. (see post ten.) They went on to work instead doing micro-finance in Sichuan. Eight years ago, while on a visit to ensure that their finances were being properly used, they stumbled on a new problem: children who couldn't afford schooling. They immediately extended their hands to help. (See post eleven.) They soon discovered that poverty wasn't the only issue. Children whose parents had disappeared and who had no money had very low self-esteem. So, Nancy and Peter decided to exact academic excellence from the children they supported, promising them a future in college. It was only then they realized what a impossible promise that was. (see post twelve.)

Nancy explained that the level of teaching in the village was poor. 
“The reason is all the teachers have to be recruited, right?” she said. “Most who’s any good, they all go to the city. You got nowhere to go? You end up in the village…If the teachers’ level is low, how are we gonna help raise the (level of the) kids?”
They found out about a school—Chengdu 7th High School—which did televised teaching. So, they contacted them, and asked them to help work with the village of Yilong.  Sounded like a perfect solution to bring quality education to places that didn’t necessarily have it, right? Wrong.
“’Why do we need to do that? It’s impossible. It’s a waste of time, blah, blah, blah,’” said Nancy, mimicking the resistance of the village teachers. 
They had a whole laundry list of excuses, Nancy explained. But when it came down to it, the biggest one was that they didn’t understand the subjects being televised either. And they didn’t want to expend the energy to learn.   But Nancy and Peter insisted. And they were able to insist, by pulling their Elderly Cards. 
"Respect your elders." Confucius
“We’re much older,” said Nancy.  She asked one teacher how old he was. He said 52. She said, “So, what are you going to do when you retire? Go home and watch the crops and wait to die? Look at us. We’re not only older than you, we’re older than your parents, and we’re here to help.’
Eventually, this teacher—unable to refuse the elders—jumped on board. 
“We’re already starting to see effects,” said Nancy.

(To be continued. Next: Educating a Flock of Sheep.)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Low Self-Esteem More Crippling Than Poverty

Retired UCSF Pharmacology Professor Nancy Ma and Internist Peter Lee both fled from China for different reasons. However, recently they created the foundation WuWei Harmony which does projects with China. 
Nancy was born in Shanghai during the 1940s. Her father worked as Asian General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive, a wonderful position...until the Communists took over in 1949.  He fled first to Hong Kong, a British territory back then. The rest of the family , however, could not get exit visas. (See post one.) After seven years of waiting, they finally managed to get to Hong Kong. (See post two.) 
Husband Peter fled from China for different reasons. His parents were part of the Nationalist Army that fought against the Japanese from 1937-45 and then the Communists from 1945-49. (See post three.) While Peter was safe from Communism, he realized upon college graduation that there weren't many job opportunities. Fortunately, he got a scholarship at the University of Texas. (See post four.) Meanwhile, Nancy struggled in Hong Kong. Her mother enrolled her in a Cantonese/English high school, two languages Nancy did not understand. Nancy only lasted three days. (See post five.)But she did well in college, and managed to get a scholarship to Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas. (see post six.) She started looking for a job, and ended up getting her Ph.D. (see post seven.) In 1981, when Nancy was a Professor of Pharmacology, China came knocking on her door. Would she come give some professional speeches to the Beijing Medical School and the Chinese Academy of Sciences? Although wary, she agreed. She and Peter then returned again a decade later. By then her old hometown was barely recognizable due to construction and modernization. (See post eight.)
 Upon retirement, they met a colleague working to build schools in China, and they offered to help as well. They received VIP treatment anytime they were in the country. But, as soon as they left, they couldn't contact anyone related to the project, a project which entailed putting computers in classrooms. (See post nine.) There was great resistance to computers, as well as many other obstacles. (see post ten.) They went on to work instead doing micro-finance in Sichuan. Eight years ago, while on a visit to ensure that their finances were being properly used, they stumbled on a new problem: children who couldn't afford schooling. They immediately extended their hands to help. (See post eleven.)

Quickly Nancy and Peter both realized that giving money was the easy part.
Known as "Ice Boy" for his frozen hair, following a 90-minute trek to school,
 this Yunnan child received donations of money, clothes, books, toys.
“What is not easy is that these kids—because of the environment that they’re in—they have very low self-esteem,” said Nancy. “They have no self-respect. They think they deserve to be poor, to be not important. They have no desire to get out of their destiny. In order to reverse that, we have to do a lot of things psychologically to help.”
The first thing they did was to change the focus of their program from that of funding the impoverished children to funding impoverished excellent academic scholarship.
“We told the kids, ‘The reason you’re in our project is because you’re academically excellent. And if you are, the two of us will see to it that you go to college.’ So they were given a boost that they were not just picked up because they’re poor.”
Still, once Grandma Ma and Grandpa Lee—as the children called them-- had opened their mouths and held out this “carrot” of college, they realized that they needed to make sure the kids got good enough grades to compete with city kids fighting for the same college spots. That’s when they discovered just how low the village education standard was.

(To be continued. Next: Pulling the Elderly Card)

Friday, March 16, 2018

One Problem Leads to Another

Retired UCSF Pharmacology Professor Nancy Ma and Internist Peter Lee both fled from China for different reasons. However, recently they created the foundation WuWei Harmony which does projects with China. 
Nancy was born in Shanghai during the 1940s. Her father worked as Asian General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive, a wonderful position...until the Communists took over in 1949.  He fled first to Hong Kong, a British territory back then. The rest of the family , however, could not get exit visas. (See post one.) After seven years of waiting, they finally managed to get to Hong Kong. (See post two.) 
Husband Peter fled from China for different reasons. His parents were part of the Nationalist Army that fought against the Japanese from 1937-45 and then the Communists from 1945-49. (See post three.) While Peter was safe from Communism, he realized upon college graduation that there weren't many job opportunities. Fortunately, he got a scholarship at the University of Texas. (See post four.) Meanwhile, Nancy struggled in Hong Kong. Her mother enrolled her in a Cantonese/English high school, two languages Nancy did not understand. Nancy only lasted three days. (See post five.)But she did well in college, and managed to get a scholarship to Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas. (see post six.) She started looking for a job, and ended up getting her Ph.D. (see post seven.) In 1981, when Nancy was a Professor of Pharmacology, China came knocking on her door. Would she come give some professional speeches to the Beijing Medical School and the Chinese Academy of Sciences? Although wary, she agreed. She and Peter then returned again a decade later. By then her old hometown was barely recognizable due to construction and modernization. (See post eight.)
 Upon retirement, they met a colleague working to build schools in China, and they offered to help as well. They received VIP treatment anytime they were in the country. But, as soon as they left, they couldn't contact anyone related to the project, a project which entailed putting computers in classrooms. (See post nine.) There was great resistance to computers, as well as many other obstacles. (see post ten.)

Nancy and Peter were feeling less-than-enthused about their ventures into China. That's when they met Casey Wilson, the niece of Oakland Mayor Lorna Wilson. Casey had set up a foundation doing micro-financing in Yilong County, Sichuan (ironically also the birthplace of Marshall Zhude, the founder of Communism.)
Marshall Zhu De with Chairman Mao
Nancy and Peter offered to help with the foundation.“Our money funded 31 farmers and village people,” said Nancy. 
She explained that the foundation had a website which listed how well the farmers were doing, and at what rate they were repaying the loans. The stats from China showed that all the borrowers were paying their loans back. But, after Nancy and Peter’s experience with the HOPE schools, they were wary of trusting county stats. So they took a trip to see for themselves.  
While they discovered the statistics were indeed accurate, they found another problem--extreme, heart-wrenching poverty. On their return trip from visiting a couple of the farmers, the woman charged with leading them around, Ms. Gao Xiang Jun, asked if she could make a quick stop to speak with some other families. In both of those families, Ms. Gao explained, the children lived with their grandparents, as the fathers had gone to cities to work and died in accidents, the mothers had left.  Ms. Gao said that now the children—three girls-- were in school, but soon would no longer be as the grandparents were unable to pay the school fees.
“What do you mean not go to school?” Nancy recalled, her eyes brimming. “We immediately took money from our pocket to make sure those three girls stayed in school.”
From that moment eight years ago, they began working with Ms. Gao to fund impoverished children in Yilong County of Sichuan province, one of the poorest spots in the country. 

(To be continued: Low Self-Esteem More Crippling than Poverty)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Philanthropic Dream Turns to Nightmare

Retired UCSF Pharmacology Professor Nancy Ma and Internist Peter Lee both fled from China for different reasons. However, recently they created the foundation WuWei Harmony which does projects with China. 
Nancy was born in Shanghai during the 1940s. Her father worked as Asian General Manager for Colgate-Palmolive, a wonderful position...until the Communists took over in 1949.  He fled first to Hong Kong, a British territory back then. The rest of the family , however, could not get exit visas. (See post one.) After seven years of waiting, they finally managed to get to Hong Kong. (See post two.) 
Husband Peter fled from China for different reasons. His parents were part of the Nationalist Army that fought against the Japanese from 1937-45 and then the Communists from 1945-49. (See post three.) While Peter was safe from Communism, he realized upon college graduation that there weren't many job opportunities. Fortunately, he got a scholarship at the University of Texas. (See post four.) Meanwhile, Nancy struggled in Hong Kong. Her mother enrolled her in a Cantonese/English high school, two languages Nancy did not understand. Nancy only lasted three days. (See post five.)But she did well in college, and managed to get a scholarship to Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas. (see post six.) She started looking for a job, and ended up getting her Ph.D. (see post seven.) In 1981, when Nancy was a Professor of Pharmacology, China came knocking on her door. Would she come give some professional speeches to the Beijing Medical School and the Chinese Academy of Sciences? Although wary, she agreed. She and Peter then returned again a decade later. By then her old hometown was barely recognizable due to construction and modernization. (See post eight.)
 Upon retirement, they met a colleague working to build schools in China, and they offered to help as well. They received VIP treatment anytime they were in the country. But, as soon as they left, they couldn't contact anyone related to the project, a project which entailed putting computers in classrooms. (See post nine.)

“The teachers don’t want to be bothered,” Peter said. “It’s too much work for them (to deal with computers.)”
“Yes,” Nancy agreed, mimicking the voices of their detractors. “’Why do you want us to use a computer? I’ve been teaching for 30 years and never used a computer. I can’t be bothered with this.’"
A bank of computers Nancy and Peter provided--left to gather dust.
"The county education officials do not yet realize that without computer proficiency in the 21st century the students will be illiterate.”
Along with resistance from everyone in charge, Nancy and Peter learned that an organization asking for donations was “double dipping.” In other words, the organization would present the case to one donor and ask for funds, then turn around to another donor with the same request.
And, finally, Nancy and Peter discovered that often the planning /building of schools was out of their hands. So, they’d  help build a school and then the county government would re-zone things…and turn their lovely new school into a lovely new hotel or office building. Their philanthropic dream was turning into a major nightmare.

(To be continued. Next: Resolution Reveals New Problem.)