Wednesday Links 8-14-2013

Since I'm still wading into the deep end of foreign exchange markets and international trade, I decided to round-up another best of for small businesses looking to go international. Did I miss anything? Tell me in the comments!

  • Interested in working abroad or finding groups to help connect with once you're overseas? The U.S. Department of State has a huge list
  • According to the SBA (Small Business Administration), 97% of the United States' exporters are small businesses and 96% of the world's market reside outside of the U.S. They provide tips and a brochure to help you take your business international.

China V Japan: A brief history of conflicts and how it affects trade

Today, we're going to have a little history lesson. In the last few weeks, I've reviewed extensive articles about China as they are a great topic to discuss international business for my classes. However, one of the assignments we had was to review the history between China and Japan to analyze their current trade relations. Now, I don't know about you, but I really had no idea about the difficulties and even animosity sometimes displayed between the two. Guys, it's there and it's a bid deal.

If you know your international politics and history, feel free to go make a latte. If you're like me and didn't have a clue, let me give you a very brief overview of the framework. In a nutshell, Japan was a dick during WWII and China remembers, especially since Japan keeps bringing it up in the most insensitive ways possible. Add to that they are still fighting over islands, trade restrictions and whatnot and you have some very unhappy campers. So here is your PSA because I'm willing to bet that other people are just as clueless as I was.

China furious as Japan reopens war wounds - click for article

It is sometimes hard to see anything but the problem directly in front of your eyes. However, many are reminded, sometimes at the worst possible moment, that the past is never dead. The repercussions of history still have a hold on relations between people long after they are done. Such is the case between Japan and China. World War II marked a period of aggression between the countries that is still affecting political relations as history is being interpreted through modern times in regards to the past.

During World War II, Japan occupied parts of China. While there, they murdered thousands of people and some were buried in mass graves. The Chinese built memorials on these spots to commemorate and honor their dead whilst remembering the atrocities committed during the great war. Some refer to it as the War of Japanese Aggression, much like the war of northern aggression in the US referring to the Civil War. The specter of WWII still hangs over the relations of China and Japan despite the time that has passed. Many in Japan are torn on their views of the war. While some believe that Japan is still militaristic in their views, others believe that Japanese youth are raised to view their society in a negative light. Growing up and being told that you are responsible for the past is a heavy burden to bear. You may be more familiar with the German struggle, as was I, where many don't feel responsible for the past but yet they carry it on their shoulders and in their society. This puts the younger generation is a tough spot.

Alternately, the Chinese are dealing with being the “losers” of history. With Japan being a large partner of Western countries, much of their involvement in the war is lost to Western societies, many of whom may not have been aware of the extent of the dealings between the two countries. Decades later, many Chinese have come to terms with history, but many others are reluctant to entirely forget. This point was resurrected again with the implementation of new textbooks in Japan. The part of Japan was greatly downplayed in regards to participation in the war, and many Chinese take great offense. They have no control over these textbooks and are looking at the beginnings of a generation that will never know the full extent of the Chinese casualties and the lasting impression it made on their society. This is certainly not the first time that history has been written by the victors and the Chinese are another in a long line of forgotten victims in history.

How does this rift affect them now? In both cases, most would agree that another war is unthinkable as would be discontinuing trade. Neighbors in such close proximity help to boost each other’s economies as Japan has profited from China’s extreme rise during their decade long recession. Nevertheless, trade between the two countries could be as difficult as political relations have been. There have been a number of incidents between the two trade partners over the years. With China at such an advantage as far as the economy, Japan is in an awkward position. China is one of their main export partners, more than tripling in trade since 2000, and any trade disagreements hurt their economy. In addition to these historical challenges, China and Japan also have geographical and elemental rights disputes to contest with. Finding some common ground seems to be one way to start moving in the right direction.

In this video, they discussed a textbook that combined the history of three major Asian countries into one cohesive unit. As they said, it is not the history of one country but of all of them that is what really happened. I think being more aware of the impact to the region as a whole and trying to navigate these sensitivities is a step towards working together. Businesses are nothing more than a group of people with a common goal and economic interest. It is important to play to the human aspect of that in regards to these political and historical incidents. However, business also has the advantage of having a common goal for both the Chinese and Japanese businesses on both ends: making money. With this common goal, they have more incentive to work together favorably to achieve mutual satisfaction. This also opens the door to relating to each other on other levels. By utilizing this advantage, firms can start to overcome these issues on an isolated basis until their respective governments can move towards mending them on a larger scale. Or one would like to think.

China And Japan Are On The Brink Of War; Beginnings of WWIII? - Click for article.

Not only are there problems on a larger scale between politicians and larger businesses, but on the consumer level as well. If you read this article, you will see that consumers are also taking a stance and in some cases boycotting products (here over geographical rights). This hurts businesses, relations, and ultimately the economies in both countries. I don't think holding hands and singing is likely, so these problems will probably need to start from the top. As history has shown us around the globe, governments are not great at getting over themselves and learning how to work together.

I feel that there is still a lot of rocky ground to cover before any kind of solutions are attempted. But what do you think? Do you have additional insight into trade or historical relations that you'd like to pitch in? Have an opinion? Let me know down in the comments and be sure to send this to anyone who either needs a shot of international know-how or who actually knows what's going on and would like to contribute.