Oriental, Asiatic, Asian…

This may come as a bit of a shock to some of you, but there is more than one country in Asia. Even more astounding…the people in each separate nation are different. And they know it – they have had thousands of years of looking at each other.

Sometimes they like each other, and sometimes they don’t. Nearly always they will trade with each other, as that doesn’t involve having to be kind – just canny. Even the ones that hate each other so bad that they have to be kept apart with landmines and diplomacy will at least trade insults…

As westerners we are a little out of the loop with this. They have their own circles, squares, and triangles of power and influence. They have their own appreciation of each other’s art, food, architecture, and dress. They look at each other’s faces and can see subtleties we miss. They can share languages that we do not know.

All these were cultural considerations to keep in the back of my mind when Asian people came into the camera shop and wanted to buy Asian goods. They frequently judged things on a very different scale than I did, and some of their prejudices were pretty broad. Please note that I am not judging…their minds were their own affair and it would have been foolish of me to interfere.

Once upon a time all Japanese equipment was made in Japan. Then it became cheaper to send some of the work to the Chinas. Then to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. I suspect that some of the work will go further; India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, etc. Who knows how far afield the Japanese makers will set their factories to get advantage?

Far and away the bulk of it will be done well. The major companies will be supplying the factories and tools and the local populations will prove as skilled eventually as the Japanese let them be. And a portion of work will always stay in Japan for technical, business, and nationalistic reasons.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Australian retail staff can learn to read the preferences and prejudices of Asian customers towards their Asian neighbour’s goods, and to adjust the sales pitch to these attitudes. We’re not allowed to have nationalistic opinions ourselves…possibly by law and certainly not in defiance of retail trade. And I suspect we would be wise not to notice those of others in an overt way.

And certainly no giggling.


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