It’s been 6 days since I came to China this trip and I am more convinced than ever that China is racing forward on all fronts to be the leader in anything and everything it can lead. The recent news of the high speed train crash is some evidence that China may be overlooking some very important issues in her effort to reclaim (in the eyes of the Chinese) her rightful place at the top of the world (remember the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest, is in China).
I had another amazing dinner tonight with some more new friends who are executives for very successful companies. I was amazed to hear them talk about the reports of the train crash and how the Chinese government is holding back on information. The official report is that 38 people died in the horrific crash over the weekend. My colleagues feel the number is closer to 800 and that eventually the real story will have to be told. And the reason for the crash may be linked to China’s rush to get their high speed rail system up and running while in the process leaving out some very important safety guidelines.
Things are happening fast here in China. Cities are built in rapid fashion, at times without a notion as to who actually could afford or be interested to live there. People work 100 hours per week although at times the lines between work and fun are blurry. The need to get to know business partners before any business engagements is different in China than anywhere else I’ve ever been.
Driving a car (or in my case riding in the back seat) in China is a true adventure. People cut off other people constantly and talk on their mobile phone. They also cross four lanes of heavy traffic to exit all with only horns blowing but no gestures of ‘friendship’ like you would see in the U.S. This may be due to the fact that most of China’s drivers are new and not yet as cynical as they are in the U.S. By the way – China made 2 million cars last year which makes China the world’s largest car manufacturer, yet only 1 in 100 Chinese own an automobile.
It’s as if China is experiencing what the U.S. went through from 1950-2000 but they are doing it in less than half that time. There are bound to be problems when you consider the scale issue of a country that is more than four times the current population of the United States.
Every day I do business in China there are so many meetings (and I drink so much tea my eyes are floating all day as seemingly every company has a tea set and the first that happens is the host makes tea – it’s extremely civil BTW – but it’s good thing that I really like tea), that I have to make notes as I go and write them all down at the end of the day. Having four or more meetings in a day over a period of 15 hours is not unusual.
Yes China has grown up in a hurry and is moving so fast it is nearly vibrating. It’s exciting, nerve wracking and I am thrilled to be here and am sorry to be leaving so soon even though I will have been gone for nearly ten days. Two weeks in China is barely enough. It passes at the speed of light.