A week or so ago I wrote to a friend I met in Shijiazhuang. His name is Eduardo, and rather than being a teacher he works in the excitingly busy import/export sector doing trade between Brazil and China. I emailed him with these six questions detailed below –
1. If you were to sum up in 25 words or less what you do in China what would you say?
2. How difficult was it to establish in China?
3. What advantages have you been able to utilise from working with China?
4. What have been some disadvantages you initially encountered?
5. Are there any future developments you think will happen to foreign business development within China (good or bad)?
6. If you could give one piece of advice, something you wish you knew early on, what would that be?
His reply just came in, and below I have directly copy-pasted his answers –
1. Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working, Making money, traveling, Making friends, Working, Working, Working, Working, Working.
2. Not so difficult because I have Chinese relatives and learned Chinese language but it is more difficult to accept and think like them. And the Chinese policy also do not help foreigners.
3. China economy is going well so there are a lot of opportunities to make money in China.
4. Different Culture and language barrier, at least I learned Chinese language.
5. China is developing so fast and do not need all kind of foreign business so they will select and allow only the businesses that are advantage for China.
6. Try to get balance life and enjoy more the life. In China because of this crazy developing we used to work too much and the time flies………..
I appreciate his honesty about how helpful learning the Chinese language has been for him. This is yet another kick up my linguistic bum, as I am again reminded how much I should actually know after a year of living in China, versus what I actually know (which is sweet Jack all).
I anticipate China will loosen its regulations and be more open to foreign trade. Understandably, as Eduardo mentioned, it must be of benefit to China (that’s like Business 101) but I feel with its awkward upbringing into the superpower club, and the strict censorships it has, it is still missing a lot of the global ingenuity that other countries have incorporated. Now however it is realising this, and slowly allowing itself to be more open to global business interactions. Of course I am speaking as a foreigner who wishes to tap into this pool of wealth, so I hope another year immersed in this country will be able to focus my attention towards this ‘new China’ development and direct myself into a career that is not teaching English.