Americans tend to have this Feeling of Exceptionalism, as Mitt Romney has noted on the stump several times. Remember him, that’s the guy who, while visiting Prime Minister David Cameron, in London during the Olympics, suggested that their Security was Lacking. Good manners, huh?
Then, we had George W. Bush, when he was trying to rationalize his Nation-Building in Iraq–claiming that he was going to Bring them Democracy. Keep in mind that the peoples of Mesopotamia (current day Iraq), had been doing quite well for some 6,000 years without Democracy. They have had a good Educational System, Ancient Engineering Marvels, Quality Health Care, Functioning Railroads, etc. And, we cannot even get our “Representatives” in Congress to be civil with each other.
So, to understand another Country and its People, we need to realize that they are not going to be just like us. They might dress differently, have different customs and probably do not even speak English. And, they might not even want to be like us. Some knowledge of other Countries is helpful, not only for visiting; but, in investing in their Markets, doing business with them and in just understanding other Parts of the World.
I remember, several years ago, reading about an American Businessman in China, who was rotating back to the U.S. He decided to give each of his Chinese Colleagues a very nice Desk Clock for their Offices. Unfortunately, rather than receive a Thank You, he had created an uproar. Apparently, in China, it is an insult to give Clocks, causing the Recipients to “Lose Face”.
I have linked a copy of “Asia Now”, from the Matthews Asian Funds web site, http://us.matthewsasia.com/resources/docs/PDF/AsiaNow/2012/AsiaNow_0812_web.pdf#page=3. To me, this site has been, perhaps, the most educational among the many mutual fund company sites. As you can see, it includes a number of aspects of understanding Asia. Also, the back issues, are available on the http://www.matthewsasianfunds.com site, which provide background on many other aspects, as well as information on the various countries.