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					                  David Ong
                New Faculty in
Behavioural Game Theory/Industrial Organization
                     and
            Experimental Economics
   My grandfather, an engineer, returned to China
    in 1954.
   Our family left China for Canada after the
    Cultural Revolution, when I was a boy.
   China had already become unrecognizable
    when I returned to Shanghai in 95-97 to consult
    for multinational firms.
   Since then, China has changed even more.
   This year is the 60th anniversary of the new China.
   Many celebrations and films to reflect upon how far China has come.
   China started as a country
     divided by civil war,
     dominated by foreign powers and
     eaten through by corruption.
   China has, after much suffering and great cost, become largely
    unified.
   Now, China is on the brink of a world power.
   Last year’s hosting of the Olympics reflects and celebrates this, as
    does the World Expo next year.
   Even now, China is a net lender to the rich world, especially to
    America.
   In 2050, it will likely surpass America in GDP.
   China will make even greater strides in the future.
   However, during the magnificent Olympics
    celebrations, when so much of Chinese art, music,
    dance, wealth and glory were on display,
   a famous Chinese woman asked:
       “What has China to contribute to world civilization?”
   as if civilization were not only, or not even mostly
    dances, wealth and glory.
   However, this question cannot be answered, yet.
   But, in 60 years, the question will have been
    answered.
   What will that answer be?
   A new kind of capitalism is beginning in
    China.
   What will that capitalism look like in the 60
    years?
   Will it be like the traffic of Shenzhen where the
    law is often determined by the size of the car?
   Or, will it be like the buses of the very same Shenzhen?
   where each time I have been on them,
   I have seen young men giving their seats
       to the old, the weak,
       or even to me, not so old and not so weak,
       carrying my bike.
   What role will we have played in that China?
   Thus, “What has China to contribute to world
    civilization?” is also a good question to ask at the
    opening ceremony of a business school,
   which will contribute so much to the wealth, glory,
   or even the dances of China.
   In 60 years, you will have been rich.
   But, how you will become rich, whether that will be
    through
       hard work,
       fair and honest dealings,
       or through other means,
       is still to be determined.
   We can also be sure that Bei Da will be famous through
    you.
   But what will it be famous for?
       Will you have become builders of a more civilized capitalism?
       Or merely learned how to better exploit its imperfections?
   It is a strange thing that suddenly, by becoming
    members of Bei Da, what we do now matters.
   What you learn, or more importantly, don’t learn will
    now matter to the 10s, 100s, 1000s and perhaps millions
    of lives you will affect with your decisions.
   What you do will also matter even now because of the
    respect that ordinary Chinese, both rich and poor,
    confer upon you.
   When you act in a civilized way 10s, 100s, perhaps
    1000s will act in a more civilized way.
   When you act otherwise, many more will follow you.
   As your teachers, we have that burden to an even
    greater extent.
   I am sure that many who helped found China 60
    years ago in their youth have been asking,
       “What have I contributed to China’s civilization?”
   They are in a position to answer this question.
   Their task is done.
   Many of them can look on with pride.
   Some cannot.
   Within 60 years, if we are still on this earth, we too
    will be able to answer this question.
   But, asking a question like this when it can be
    answered is to ask the question too late.
   The right time to ask “What have I to contribute to
    Chinese civilization?”is when it cannot be answered,
   or rather, when it can only be answered by our actions:
         by our civility towards each other in the lines in the cafeteria,
         by our kindness towards ordinary Chinese on buses,
         or even
         by our yielding to the smaller car in Shenzhen traffic.
   As with the founders of the new China 60 years ago,
   so our legacy and the reputation of the school in 60
    years
   begins with our actions now,
   on our first day
   of our first year.

				
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posted:10/10/2011
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