Thoughts on China from a window in Guangzhou

Every time I go to China I am amazed how much is going on there: the new buildings, the new transportation, fancy new restaurants, cosmopolitan fashion, New York and Tokyo like prices.  This time was no different. However,  I really took notice of the development this time because on my second night in Guangzhou,  while I was flipping through the channels on the TV,  I chanced upon a documentary about Nixon’s visit to China in February 1972. The documentary entitled “Assignment China” was produced by the USC film school and talks about media coverage in China during Nixon’s visit.  But it is also about China 40 years ago.  The change in China from then to now is remarkable.

The following morning while I was looking out my hotel window I counted nine construction cranes. In fact this has become something of a pastime of mine, counting the construction cranes that are visible outside hotel windows in China. My record is over 30, I think 38   – outside a hotel in Shanghai about 10 years ago.  But the construction is still going on. It just does not seem to let up.  As I was looking out the window I saw a car back up on the freeway. The driver had gotten off the wrong exit but rather than just get off at the next exit and turn back, he/she had decided to back up on the shoulder of the freeway.  I stayed there to watch this drama until I was sure the car had made it back safely. There was much irony in this scene I thought, the cityscape so progressive while ordinary citizens sometimes exhibit very backward attitudes (no pun intended).

Looking out the window at Guangzhou, the Nixon documentary and haphazard automobile fresh in my mind, I realized that 40 years later China’s development, to use a baseball metaphor, is still in the middle innings. After all there are still many mega cities in China that have not been touched by development. It is just so exciting to witness what is happening in China, what Henry Kissinger refers to as one of the “miracles” of our time. If you are a small business don’t let anyone tell you there is any place but China to source your product. And it will probably be like this for many years to come.


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