Americans Doing Business in China – Part 4/16

February 24, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: On October 22, 2004, according to the Associated Press, “The beer is flowing, John Fogerty is singing on the stereo and six scantily clad young Chinese women are doing the hokey-pokey. Hooters in Shanghai is open for business.”

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Guest Post by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption, an international online magazine.

I have been traveling to China since 1998. I would not consider myself a seasoned traveler to that country—making around twenty-five visits total. When I traveled there, I usually stayed between one and two weeks. Never during any of my visits did I ever see or meet a “Red” Chinese person. I saw no one wearing an “I am a Communist” sweatshirt, ball cap, t-shirt, sunglasses, button or anything else physically labeling them a Communist. I saw no street banners, bumper stickers, storefront displays, mass gatherings or any other public notice that I was among Communists. What I was among were just people—regular people.

All of my visits were for business purposes. I met with business people only and traveled to see their factories or offices. I did not take much time to “sightsee” which was a mistake in retrospect.

With my business, I tended to visit locations where I was the “only” non-Chinese person within miles. I never felt threatened or out of place. No one ever stared at me or pointed—“Look at that non-Communist person.”

I found “most” of the people with whom I came in contact during both business meetings and other activities to be very pleasant, warm, humble, honorable, respectful and charming. I will have to admit that I did have some dealings with business people who were other than honest; however, China does not hold a monopoly on those types of business people. As a rule, I found the Chinese people with whom I had my dealings to be extremely hard working, dedicated and honest.

I had no fear going out on my own in any part of China that I visited day or night. I was never threatened or accosted in any manner.

One day I was walking around a city on a Sunday afternoon—alone. I felt a tug on my shirtsleeve and turned to find two young girls at my side. One asked me if they could speak with me—in good English. I did not suspect their reasons for talking with me to be anything other than honorable, so I said, “Sure.”

The girls were students at the university and their English professor had given them an assignment to stop, interview and take a photo with any “Westerner”. They said they had been looking for hours and I was the only “Westerner” they had seen. I was happy to answer their questions—one of the girls took my photo with the other girl. They thanked me, and went on their way. These were just two young students with an assignment, and I felt honored that I was able to help them complete it.

Perhaps I am being a bit naive—I was obviously around Communists during my visits to China, but I never felt that I had really “met” one. I had been fortunate enough to meet people from another country and culture, and they had accepted me at face value. I enjoyed each one of my visits to China and care a great deal for China and its people.

I truly believe if people could meet and work with other people around the world that many of the world’s problems would be solved. Perhaps this is a bit Pollyanna of me but this is how I see things from my myopic point of view and experiences, with China and its people, and I will stand by them.

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued February 25, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 5 (a guest post) or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This guest post first appeared on February 17, 2010

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David – (Discovering that The World is a Global Market)

September 30, 2010

Guest post by Bob Grant
First published at Speak Without Interruption on September 22, 2010. Republished here with permission.

 The world is a global market – those businesses that don’t believe this, or embrace it, will go by the wayside.

In 2002, I was an independent manufacturer’s rep and one of my customers said that I should look at branching out – representing products “outside” of the U.S.

I thought this was good advice, so I first started looking in Europe.  For many reasons – after trying many companies and products – I decided that Europe was not for me. 

I then looked and visited Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and China. 

I settled on China because I felt that was a country that could best provide me with the products I needed to succeed. 

Once I settled on a product category, I then knew that I needed one key person inside China to make it all come together and become successful. 

It took me a year to find that person and his name is David.  Without David, I would not be where I am today and I am forever indebted to this young man.

Bob Grant with David’s family in China.

David and I had some very productive years together. 

Then like most things that are successful – there was a down turn.  This was due to the world economy and actions taken by both the Chinese and U.S. Governments. 

Through no fault of our own our business died. However, David has stuck with me and I with him.  We are now working on new projects that we both hope – and feel – will get us back some of the volume we have had in the past.

I never had a son and David became that son to me.  He and his family have also adopted me as part of their own. 

It saddens me when I read statements about China and its people that just are not true.  I can only testify to my own experiences and connections inside China but I would not trade the relationships I have made for anything. 

David and his family are a key part of my life and forever will be – regardless of what the governments of our respective countries might say and do.

See more of Bob Grant’s guest posts – start with Not All Factories in China are Sweat Shops

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


I Miss the Smell of China

April 27, 2010
Bob Grant

Originally Published at Speak Without Interruption on April 16, 2010 by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption. Posted on iLook China, April 27, 2010 at 12:00 PM

 For various reasons, my business in China declined a little over two years ago, and I have not had occasion to visit there during that time period. A lot has happened—both within the U.S. and China—since my business went south.

I do miss China – its people – its culture – its smell. This might seem like an irrational statement since China is suppose to be one of the most polluted countries in the world, but it is not the smell of pollution that sticks in my memory.

Our China office was located in Guangdong Province, which is in the southern part of China near Hong Kong. Traveling around that province, I always remember the fresh scents of flowers, rain, trees, grass, and meals being prepared for daily consumption.

I tended to visit factories that were in outlying areas—their conference rooms, factories, reception rooms, and gardens all had a smell that I grew to welcome during each of my visits. As I made trips and visits to other parts of China, I felt they each had their own unique smells and aromas that I have not found any other place in the world that I have traveled.

I have written other posts regarding my feelings about the Chinese people—those have not changed.  I am not certain that I will ever have occasion to visit China again but the smells and memories of that country and its people will remain with me forever.

Follow this link to see more by Bob Grant “Transporting Goods by Road in China” http://wp.me/pN4pY-jf


An Insider’s View from Speak Without Interruption

March 30, 2010

In this post, instead of hearing form an outsider who has visited China and studied the culture for a decade while writing two novels about Robert Hart, the Godfather of China’s modernization, let’s see what Will Liu writes about China, his home.

Lunar New Year in China

“This Chinese New Year Season, something did surprise me. As a rule, every year…, I must make the trip to the hometown of my wife, where her father still lives…. What astonished me is that I could not find anybody smoke in the bus! Just last year and before, that was what tortured me most. You cannot avoid smoke, no matter on a bus or in a cab.”

Liu write about the differences he sees between cities.

Then in Part II, Liu writes, “Now, more and more people, especially young people celebrate Christmas Day. Nevertheless, we still take the Chinese New Year as our major … holiday, which we call the Spring Festival. Like the Christmas Season, we have a long Chinese New Year Season, typically the government approves a legal vacation of 3 days from New Year’s Eve till January the 2nd according to the Chinese lunar calendar.”

See another point-of-view from and expatriate, Tom Carter’s Teaching English in the Middle Kingdom http://wp.me/pN4pY-is

 


Super Power Dawn

March 29, 2010

Alan Caruba writes about Super Power China at “Speak Without Interruption”. “As the sun begins to set on an America whose dollar set the standard and whose capacity for manufacturing was unchallenged, a new superpower is emerging and it is China.”

Two notable individuals from history predicted more than a century ago what is taking place in China—the first was a young Irishman from Belfast who arrived in China in 1854 and left in 1908.  His name was Robert Hart and to historians, he’s known as the Godfather of China’s modernization.

Hart wrote near the end of the 19th century that in a hundred years China would be a superpower again. Jack London, who visited China and wrote about it, made the same prediction.

The way the government has decentralized power in China is not new. Imperial China did the same. The Emperor appointed the governors to the provinces based on who earned the highest scores in the Imperial exams and they ruled like kings. 

As for a market economy, China may have invented this on a national scale more than a millennia ago proving that it doesn’t take a democracy or republic to prosper.

If you spend time in China, you will discover that the Chinese are born entrepreneurs, who find ways to get around government restrictions to make money. Sadly, this has led to the pollution in China today—something the central government is struggling to deal with as they transition to green power.

As for long term planning, consider that the top men in China’s government are engineers or scientists compared to America’s leaders who are mostly lawyers. After Mao, China implemented term and age limits for government positions, something America does not have.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Transporting Goods by Road in China

March 26, 2010

Originally Published (see more photos here) at Speak Without Interruption on February 19, 2010 by Bob Grant—publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption. Posted on iLook China, 3/26/10 at 08:00

About any time, day or night, in major Chinese cities you can see any type of vehicle transporting all imaginable products on the roads. There are trucks carrying ocean containers and Mercedes carrying people. I have traveled to England, Ireland, Holland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, and China. I would not call myself a “world traveler” but, of all the countries in which I have traveled, I found China to be the most diverse in terms of the types of vehicles that transported goods on their roads.

Regardless of where my travels took me in China—rural or city—there were always a lot of people transporting goods in any type of vehicle that could move on its own, by animal, or under human power. The fact that people were busy working was not of particular note. It was the diversity of their means of transportation within a single view that was of interest to me. Also, they all seemed to move with purpose—whether carrying large or small items. I suppose that is really not so different than any other parts of the world—for some reason it just struck me as another admirable quality of the Chinese people.

Photo from original post on Speak Without Interruption

Most of the smaller commercial trucks are blue—I have no idea why? I asked a couple of times but really did not receive an answer. Maybe there was a sale on blue paint? I am certain there is a reason, but since I don’t know it, I can’t share it with you—rather just make reference to it.

I will say that with all those vehicles on the road it did add to the air pollution. In most states in the U.S., vehicles have to pass safety inspections before they can be licensed. I am not certain this is a rule in China—if it can move it is road ready. 

In my travels inside China for business, I found the Chinese to be very capitalistic in nature—certainly contrary to how I viewed the Chinese people prior to me actually visiting the country. The diversity in the means of transporting their goods is just one example of this fact at least in my mind.

Read more of Bob Grant’s guest posts at http://wp.me/pN4pY-gJ

 


Flowers, Greenery, and Gardens

March 17, 2010

Originally Published at Speak Without Interruption on February 18, 2010 by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption. Posted on iLook China, 3/17/10 at 08:00

The photos with this guest post are from my collection. Click on Originally Published to see more.

One of the aspects of my trips to China, that I truly enjoyed, was seeing all of the flowers, greenery, and gardens along the way.  I wanted to specifically mention this fact, and state, the photos you might have seen of typical Chinese landscapes are true.  In fact, there were many more beautiful sights – of plants and flowers – than I had anticipated.  I saw them in cities – in the country – in hotels – in restaurants – in offices – and other places too numerous to mention.  Our office was in southern China – with a tropical climate – so there were flowers and greenery there any time of the year I visited.  As you go farther north, in China, there are the four seasons; however, even when it was too cold for outdoor plants there were many indoor ones wherever I went.

Shanghai Public Park

I do not enjoy planting or maintaining plants but I certainly like looking at them.  The growing scenery I saw in China always gave me a feeling of tranquility.  I had once thought about buying a condo in Shenzhen so I could stay longer when I visited.  One of the condos had a small patio (this was a multistoried condo building) and each patio came with a beautifully planted garden with flowers, plants, and trees.  It was a place where I would have enjoyed going every evening and just sitting.  It was covered so I could have enjoyed it in most types of weather.

Shanghai Public Park

Because I never stayed in the Western type hotels – rather staying where my Chinese associates stayed – I was treated to a unique insight on how some of the Chinese population lived.  Some of the hotels – where I stayed – were literally right next to apartment buildings.  I could actually look out my window into those apartments.  I can’t say that I saw anything “personal” in nature but I did get to see how some Chinese decorated their apartments and balconies.  I could also see the gardens many planted on the rooftops of their apartment buildings.  Staying in those places certainly gave me even more appreciation of the Chinese people in that I saw a side of their lives that most “Westerners” would never see unless they stayed in places where I stayed.

I will always have fond memories of the many beautiful things I saw growing in China – it is a picture that will remain with me forever.

If you want to see more of China, see Visiting Xian at http://wp.me/pN4pY-8o