Today was the first day of the 13th Great-Idea China Sourcing & New Industrial Delegation (Delegation). The first stop: Shanghai.
Because this was my first time to China, I really did not know what to expect when my plane landed in Shanghai. All I really knew about China before leaving home is that from a geographical standpoint, it is an extremely large-sized country with an equally large population, and that many of the products that I rely on day in and day out in my life (my running shoes, many of my clothes, etc.) are made in China. Well, I was certainly not prepared for what I found when my plane landed in Shanghai. What struck me immediately was that Shanghai is absolutely enormous in a multitude of different ways. First, the sheer number of people who live and work in Shanghai is colossal. Since my arrival, I have heard that the number of residents in Shanghai to be anywhere from 20 to 23 million. Regardless of the actual number, I can tell you that there are simply people everywhere and they seem to be going in every direction. In fact, there are so many people in Shanghai that there is not enough room for people to walk on the sidewalks, so they frequently travel in the streets along with the buses, cars, mopeds, motorcycles and bicycles that make up traffic.
Second, the sheer number and size of free-standing skyscrapers in Shanghai is astonishing. Some of the more prominent skyscrapers include the Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, which is the tallest skyscraper in mainland China at the moment, the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Development Tower.
Third, the amount of new skyscrapers that are under construction is tremendous. There seems to be skyscrapers under construction no matter which direction you look in Shanghai. Based on the work done thus far, it appears that many of these skyscrapers are going to be just astronomical in size.
Fourth, the traffic in Shanghai is monstrous. Growing up on Long Island, NY, I thought I was used to the immense day-to-day traffic that has long been a staple in the New York Metropolitan area. NOTHING could prepare me for the mammoth traffic in Shanghai. Getting around by car, cab or bus is absolutely painful during what most people would consider “reasonable” waking hours during the day. I took a bike tour on Saturday and I can personally attest that this traffic makes biking a challenge when you have to traverse cars, buses, cabs, mopeds, motorcycles, bicycles and people crossing the streets. In fact, at times, the weaving in and out was better than any amusement park ride I’ve been on in years (and far less expensive).
Fifth, not surprisingly given the number of cars, buses and motorcycles that comprise the traffic in Shanghai, the pollution is gargantuan. It has taken my eyes and lungs a bit of time to adjust to the increased levels of pollution.
In addition to the enormity of China, I was also not prepared for what I have found in terms of the people of China. For the most part, the Chinese people are very friendly and warm. I have found them to be very hard-working and capitalistic. Unfortunately, given the large number people in China, there are far more people than jobs. In view of this, as part of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development, the Chinese government is trying to spread the benefits of economic growth to a higher number of Chinese citizens. The plan’s key themes involve rebalancing the economy, ameliorating social inequality and protecting the environment. Part of this plan involves changing the export-oriented economy of China from low-end manufacturing outsourcing to advanced manufacturing outsourcing and international service outsourcing. The three main sectors to be targeted by this plan are healthcare, energy and technology.
The Delegation is part of an international summit and forum that has come to China to learn more about the plan, to meet with local business leaders and politicians who will be instrumental in implementation and to foster cooperation and investment opportunities between China and other nations based on the plan of the International delegates. Some are venture capitalists or other types of investors, some are lawyers and others are technology specialists.
This evening, the delegation visited Hand Enterprise Solutions Company (Hand) for a presentation by Mr. Dean Chen, President. Hand was established in Shanghai in 2002 and was one of the first local enterprise resource planning (ERP) consulting firms in China. They currently have over 700 employees and an average growth rate of 30% in recent years. In 2002, IDC named Hand one of the “Top Consulting Companies” in the China IT Industry. Hand currently provides a variety of IT services ranging from traditional IT strategic consulting, business process optimization, ERP implementation service, as well as, mobile solutions and business intelligence. They have provided consulting services in a variety of industries such as machinery, electronics, automotive, pharmaceutical, chemicals, food and beverage, financial services, telecommunications and the Chinese aviation industry. Hand has about 400 customers in China, Japan, Europe and the US and has offices in Beijing and Guangzhou in China and in Tokyo, Japan.
Tomorrow morning the Delegation will tour the Zhangjiang Science and Technology Park in Shanghai before heading to Suzhou.
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