The new face of China
Hong Kong, 11th November 2014
As I am back for a few days in Hong Kong and China, with street protest in Hong Kong still going on, the inevitable question that many are asking is whether it is still business as usual in Hong Kong and China. While I am not very active in Hong Kong, mostly visiting project consultants for coordination, I am in China and to my mind there is definitely a wind of change blowing in this part of the world; possibly a more divisive one. Hong Kong leadership is under direct instruction from Beijing; it was always going to be that way after Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997. The one country, two systems is to remain for 50 years after which it will be anybody’s guess to what will happen in Hong Kong.
It is therefore interesting to see what is currently happening in China itself. Of course I can only speak from my limited perspective of doing (my lighting design) business in China, but it does seem to indicate that the face of doing business in China is changing. It is also set against China’s economic growth (now the number two economy in the world) and its growing if not leading influence and importance in the world of business. First of all I think the years of double digit growth are behind us, because China’s growth is still much entwined with the western economies, which as we all know are struggling. While this has resulted in a marked slow-down of business it certainly does not mean a halt…on the contrary, China is still a very strong developing nation and I don’t see that changing any time soon. But the type of projects and the way business is conducted is changing, perhaps maturing, evolving when it comes to China, perhaps more “regulated and controlled” when it comes to Hong Kong.
With the ever increasing drive to stamp out the rampant corruption in China the way of doing business in China has changed as well. Lavish dinners and karaoke parties are no longer held, in fact in many cases forbidden by the government. You can no longer (openly) fete your (potential) client to get certain favors as big brother is watching you. Business is becoming more direct so to speak, for lack of a better word. But the straightening of business is a long process and many of the older generation struggle to adapt, many becoming bottlenecks in new developing projects. We, as foreign business men active in China, are part of that process, we adapt, we learn, cooperate, we help.
Light Watch 5-192: Meanwhile Hong Kong is enjoying its latest addition to its skyline, the International Commercial Centre (ICC) that features a nightly light show…a bit too much?