From our very first minute in China, everything seemed GINORMOUS. Beijing's airport is the largest in the world. And Terminal 3 -- where we landed/departed -- is the third-largest building in the world! Tienanmen Square: the world's largest public meeting place. The Forbidden City: 9,999 rooms! The VERY GREAT wall... breathtaking as far as the eyes could see (and beyond). And lastly, the Silk Market (need I say more???) All MADE IN CHINA.
But these superlatives seem almost natural -- if not expected -- in a country with 1.3 billion people (20% of the world's population!) Inasmuch as I personally disagree with the "one-child-per-family" law, how much bigger would China be if they had not enacted such a population-control restriction? Regardless, China is still the fastest-growing population in the world.
Maria-Elena, Mervet and I extended our trip post-Beijing and visited the city of Xi'an (about a two-hour flight southwest of Beijing.) Much to our delight, we discovered this is where they keep the sunshine :) Our Xi'an tour guide said the town was a "medium-sized" city. When asked how large is a medium-sized city, he replied, "9 million."
Wait. What? Medium-sized city??? It's all relative in China. The Terra-Cotta soldiers were absolutely breathtaking. Thousands of life-sized hand-made soldiers standing in form ready to protect the emperor in the after-life.
Today's business leaders and professionals can no longer turn a blind eye to this super-sized country. Ready or not, China has emerged. China is a super power, as we all experienced many times first hand.
With all its grandeur and untapped potential, I couldn't help but be perplexed by some glaring dysfunctions. The average annual family income in China is about $6,000! (How I pitied the laborers at TopNew, although I highly suspect they would not welcome any sympathy for they seemed highly content, focused on their work and barely noticing our presence.) Meanwhile, across town, the Chinese were shopping. They ARE consumers. The shops near our hotel riveled 5th Avenue. Cartier. Gucci. Louis Vuitton. Lamborghini. This materialism will, in time, cause the "masses" to demand higher wages to "keep up with the Jianges." Let's hope China stays ahead of the curve to maintain its current competitive advantage.
China is like a sleeping giant that has just awaken from a centuries-long nap. FEE FIE FOE FUM. I smell the scent of an emerging economic super power that is on the cusp of taking center stage in the world economy -- whether it be "made IN China" or purchased BY China!
All in all, I am grateful for the "good fortune" I had to make this journey with new friends, esteemed academicians and respecteed business professionals and for the opportunity to "orient" myself to a valuable new business perspective!!!