Saturday, December 09, 2006

Volume 28 - China - the first 72 hours

After spending almost three weeks in China, Beijing-Guangzhou-Zhongshan-Dongguan-Shanghai-Suzhou-Taipei-Hong Kong, one might expect to hear about the fourteen (14) hour flight, the food, the traffic, the pollution, the population, the government, emerging markets, one child per family rule, poverty of workers, the civilization of bicycles, or other 'television produced ideas' of what 'China' is supposed to be so let me attempt to state what I wasn't prepared to witness.

I didn't witness an emerging market, I witnessed a country that already has emerged. I witnessed a nation that has been undergoing a huge commercial and creative upheaval, entering the world market. I witnessed a country emerged in a spirit of entrepreneurship that reminded me of what the United States was before we promoted 'socialism' under the guise of 'liberalism'; before we paid workers to sit on their 'butts' without working. I witnessed a 'pay as you go society'; if you couldn't pay, you worked until you were able to (purchase).

I witnessed construction cranes that worked seven days a week, in the creation of breathtakingly spectacular skylines that rival New York, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles. Construction involving highrise office buildings, apartments, airports, hospitals, malls, and hotels. The creation of jobs for millions of people that earn them a spending power they have never known and are eager to exercise. I witnessed crowds of people working, shopping, and dining in an international environment.

I had the privilege of working with two interpreters, Chinese citizens, both bright and act as independent contractors, entrepreneurship at its best, who were given the assignment of being with me not only in a work environment but after dinner, socially in their environment. We walked the streets, ate at 24 hour diners, drank and socialized with their friends at bars, talk about every subject imaginable. We discussed politics, religion, America, 'change', security, crime, food, and a multitude of other subjects without rules or censor. By the way, it should be mentioned that they (the interpreters) and other Chinese females are unable to obtain a visa to visit the United States. These two professional individuals as well as three others met, two other interpreters and an educated Hotel middle manager, are unable to obtain a visa to travel the United States because 'we' don't permit single female Chinese to enter this country. I'm embarrassed that my country has such rules toward what may be our best future ally (future blog subject) yet we permit an onslaught of Middle Easterners, and South Americans to cross our borders seemingly at will.

Driving two and half hours outside of Guangzhou, a city of ten million people, to the city and surrounding area of Zhongshan, a city of three million, to visit my first two factories, I saw terrible air pollution, driving conditions that makes the 10 and 405 in Southern California look like a sensible highways. I also saw many small motorcycles, with occasionally three people seeking transportation on one vehicle. But I also saw people working in factories that smiled, when you made eye contact, no dirt floors, no armed guards, and none of the 'TV' conditioned 'Chinese factory'.

The following day, my drive to the third factory was less than an hour to a five story building within Guangzhou which housed 3-4 different factories. Our particular factory consumed four floors, and other than the walking up and down the flights of stairs, and the lack of 'flow', so promoted by US companies, this factory was full of energy from the managers of the company to the 'forming process' workers through the software creation department, to the circuit board production, molding processes and another dozen departments all the way to shipping. Energy and pride of work emanated from the factory floor to the Chinese owner, who has twenty-three patents on his products.

That's only the first 72 hours, and I don't desire to get caught up into reporting a daily schedule but to discuss in the next blog, along with some travel, and manufacturing tours my impressions of another world that has two millennia of history, a newly found entrepreneurial spirit possibly unrivaled, exceptional freedom for the female gender and a growing sense that Chinese destiny is being returned to a higher place in the world of today.

No comments: