Hemingway (non) executive China trip - Travel blog by Maarten den Ottolander
Hemingway (non) executive China trip - Beijing
This weekend our group of 12 (non) executives started its first Non-Executive Leadership programme in China. I would like to share a few insights of our visit to Beijing. Later I will share our insights in Shanghai (business) and innovation in Shenzhen. Nd it is true. You have to experience it to fully understand what is going on in China and how it may affect our political and economic future. With Brexit and a divided Europe, America destabilising the present established world order, China has the best cards to dominate the 21st century. It is the same view Rob de Wijk mentions in his book “How China is step by step becoming the world’s leader”.
Relations in China rely on trust and investing in long standing networks and can be characterised by high frequency of contacts. Although it looks as if the younger English-speaking urban generation is growing more to the West, we realise that - even moderated - there will always be deep down the cultural heritage of Confucianism. Society first, then Party, then the company and last the individual. From macro to micro. Westerners think the other way around. It is therefore strange and hardly to combine that China has become one of the most capitalistic systems in the world when you look aspects such as housing (extremely expensive), social welfare (none), education (only till the 9th grade), charity (hardly any compared to the USA) and weak NGO’s. At the same time, company officials and professors tell us that China can only ‘consolidate’ its emerging world leader’s role, when it is willing to realise more deregulation, a stronger rule of law and a redistribution of wealth. A challenge for the next step of further development.
Talk to you tomorrow about the internet strategy of China, the big players in this field and the company visits to JD.com, Randstad China and Ctrip.com.
We expect to go back to China with a similar programme at the end of June 2020.
Hemingway in China - Shanghai
The interesting point of actually visiting China is that you collect many impressions to get a better picture of the phase China is in. The combination of company visits, networking with the extensive alumni network and lectures about what is really going on, are helping us to define our vision towards China. A visit to JD.com (second e-commerce company in China) and Ctrip.com (second largest e-booking company in the world) made it clear that speed, capital and a big home single lingual market are important for becoming world (technology) leader. Europe is (still) considered by China as a very important market and partner, but at the same time they are just watching us weakening our position - divided through Brexit and by populistic parties - waiting to take over the leadership they desire after two centuries of humiliation by the West. It is not a trade war, it is a the war of who will have the future technology.
Tomorrow we will be in Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley in China, a city of over 16 million people and only 10 years old. Keep you posted.
Hemingway doing China - Shenzhen
The company visit today was the newly built HQ of Huawei. Passes to enter were hard to get. You will not believe it if you have not seen it. The HQ is built like Disney World with imitation buildings from all over Europe. If you want to see Europe in one hour, go to Huawei HQ. The idea behind this concept is that Huawei is a truly international company. By the way 70% of the staff is non Chinese and most of the turn over is generated outside of China. French Café’s, a train, gardens, lakes, bridges etc. Talking about investment and not state owned.…
In Shenzhen, the innovation centre of China, we visited two incubator ‘towns’; smart cities with industry production locations in17 store buildings, housing, restaurant and leisure facilities. It reminded me of the Cadbury’s (Quakers) who in the 19th century built in Birmingham a village for their workers. The smart city, an old concept in an Industry 4.0 concept. The difference is that the Chinese are building these incubator cities to attract top talent and new technologies. As I said, it is all about the war in technology.
It is becoming clear that maintaining stability is key in China policy which is understandable in such a large country going through tremendous growth and changes. Looking into governance issues this morning we learned that governance is still much based on control and procedures. And not without reason, but things are changing.
An interesting remark of Dean Bo Ji was that perhaps the most important aspect for China to enter into to the next phase of its development is not innovation but deregulation and good governance. In fact, China is already moving to more protection for minority shareholders, strengthening the enforcement of legal rule, diversity of ownership and more independence non-executives. But there is still some homework to be done, balancing between stability and innovation of governance.
Is China going to win the battle of technology? - Shenzhen
The last update from Shenzhen, the final destination of the (non) executive China programme. A good moment to think about the strategic question: is China going to win the battle of technology? They very well may. China is not the place where the big innovations in technology are created, but they are very good in application. And application is what the battle will be about in the next decade. Artificial Intelligence is all round available. The winner of this battle will be the one who is going to be able to generate the largest amount of data, who has the required computer capacity and who is good in fast time to market business models. In these domains China is extremely good. We will see, but it is absolutely clear that leading entrepreneurs and (non) executives should visit China to see this themselves.
The uniqueness of this programme was that it holds a combination of lectures by our partner #CKGSB, high-end company visits and network interactions. And of course, a lot of fun. We will be back in China end of June 2020. Let us know if you are interested in joining us.
Interested in joining our next trip?