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ASIAN BUSINESS

Confucianism is Cultural Difference, Not Sinister Motives

By David James

Despite the rhetoric surrounding the U.S. Senate hearings on campaign finance, the picture emerging is that Asians and Asian-Americans who contributed to the Democratic campaign coffers did so in an effort to help overseas friends in high places gain contacts and prestige here. Their actions were NOT intended to buy improper political influence.

In the United States, businesses hold a deep distrust of politicians and government bureaucrats, whereas in Asia, government-to-business relations are far less adversarial. By following the events being probed at the Washington hearings, Western business people can gain insight into doing business in Asia.

From Democratic fund-raiser John Huang, to Charlie Trie of Little Rock, Ark., to the Buddhist nuns of the Lisi Lai Temple near Los Angeles, these minions were seeking to do good for their respective superiors and thereby bask in reflected glory. Instead of sinister motives, cultural differences are in evidence.

When nun Venerable Man-Ya was asked if she did not realize that Vice President Al Gore's visit to her Temple was a hind-raiser, she replied, "We see people. We don't see politicians." Later, when the Temple's treasurer, Venerable Yi-Chu, was asked to explain why she destroyed documents relating to the event, she replied she did so because she was afraid the documents would embarrass the Temple after the news media got hold of the issue, not because she sought to cover up for Gore. She was protecting her protectors. How very Buddhist! How Confucian!



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