Danger or opportunity?

One company we interviewed today at the CMEF show here in Schenzen, China was the Perlong Group, which manufactures analog and digital X-ray imaging equipment. Most of the company's sales are in China and it does not yet have CE and FDA approvals to target the European and U.S. markets. According to the company, it started exhibiting at the event in 1996. Interestingly, before 2000, there were no international visitors -- now there are so many, the company needs three translators just to keep up. Although the company has not yet penetrated the U.S. market, it has been exhibiting in American shows such as AACC for a few years.

The energy in the air at this show is fantastic. In fact, this enerby is everywhere in the business sections of the city. One individual called China "the global stage" and that statement certainly seems true. It was announced on TV today that China is now the biggest consumer of automobiles in the world. The people's attitude toward the world recession can be summed in the concept of "Wei Ji," two Chinese characters that together symbolize Danger/Opportunity. In other words, whenever you are in a risky situation (recession), you are being presented an opportunity.

Interestingly, our guides Jan and Shell are young Chinese women who are quite independent in that they have good careers at Reed Sinophram, the show organizer, as translators and facilitators. Yet they belong to the Communist Party. They tell me that the Chinese vision is to temporarily implement capitalism to put into place the infrastructure and access to health care needed for the company to progress to a developed nation. Once that happens, they say, the country intends to revert to a kind of new form of communism in which everyone is taken care of and everyone is happy. What a beautiful ideal! Shangri La. This will not happen in their lifetimes, but they don't mind working for the future good.

The downside to all this growth: Travel a bit outside of the main business districts and you see how the common Chinese person lives in new cities such as Schenzen. I used the woman's bathroom at the local shopping area and it was but a pit in the ground that you crouch over to pee. And apartment highrises cram in their inhabitants like sardines. The apartment buildings are like mile-high rabbit warrens. All the lighting seems to be florescent, and although Schenzen is in the tropical zone, and therefore HUMID as heck, none of the units seemed to be air conditioned. The new hotels, though, are five-star and beautiful.

We visited lots more exhibitors in the next few days...Stay tuned to MACHINE DESIGN and Medical Design magazines for more stories on China and international business...

In the meantime, we spent our last evening here shopping. I am completely over a bad case of jet lag and now wish I could stay here longer -- would like to visit Beijing and Hong Kong, for instance. By the way -- this is fun -- the girls told me what my name is in Chinese. Here, the convention is when you use given name and surname, the last name goes first. So my name -- Gordon Leslie -- in Chinese is "Gao Li Li" (Li in this case means "jasmine." Another Li character means "beautiful.")

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