Back from traveling

As regular readers probably noticed, I did not update my weblog for a couple of days. The reason is that I was traveling with several Dutch colleagues around China (as you may have seen from my Twitter feed), and there was hardly a free minute to write a blog post. But now I am back in Shanghai again, and can spend a bit more time on writing.

The trip we had was busy (a bit too busy actually), but quite successful. I traveled with Peter Driessen (CEO, Spill Group), Willem van Wijmen (CFO, Spill Group) and Martijn Hamann (Partner at Van den Ende & Deitmers, a Dutch VC fund that invested in Spill Group), meeting with companies and potential partners in Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu. For Willem and Martijn this was their first trip to China, and I think they got a good impression of what is happening here.

As usual with people new to China they probably did not expect how modern and advanced the country is. The foreign media keep on describing China as a backward country with only low cost and low quality products, but that is not what China is anymore. In many aspects it has become more advanced than Europe or the US, but people have to come here to see it for themselves. The mass media won’t tell you, they prefer to keep focusing on scandals with inferior or dangerous products. But that’s why it’s good that there are weblogs, so people do not have to rely solely on one-sided newspapers and TV reports.

For me one of the aims of this trip was to show my guests the modern, advanced China. Not only in Shanghai and Beijing things are developing very fast, but also in China’s Western regions. Chengdu’s development for example, never ceases to amaze me. Each time I visit this place, the city and especially its development zone have developed further. The design of some of the structures there is more futuristic than any building you will see in the Netherlands, and this is only the beginning! KLM even has a direct flight from Amsterdam to Chengdu, even though most people have never heard of this 12-million people metropolis. If I would be 10 years younger I would probably pack my bags and move to Chengdu, because that is where things are happening now.

During our one-week trip we met about 20 companies, which is quite a lot for such a short time. I am now trying to digest all our discussions, and doing the follow-up for some of them. We also had a few hours of free time, and Martijn and Willem went to see the Great Wall for example (Peter and I opted to stay in the hotel and had some strategic discussions instead). In Chengdu we visited the Wenshu monastery and had the local spicy huo guo (hot pot) for dinner. In Shanghai we did not have time to do any sightseeing, but we had dinner on the Bund and in Xintiandi once. All in all the trip should have been one or two days longer, but due to our busy work schedules this was not possible this time.

I had planned to post some pictures of the trip, but because my almost new Sony camera broke down the first day, this was not possible. The others will send me some of their pictures and movies, and I will upload those later to my Flickr account.

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  1. Well said, Marc,

    But the fact remains that we are still a relatively low end manufacturing country. These scandals should really serve as a wakeup call for Chinese manufacturers to move up the value chain, because so long as we stayed at the low end of value creation we would be an easy target to be discriminated against.


  2. Well, I am proud to be a Chinese!

    As Lei mentioned about low end manufacture in China, I would suggest you may think about the genesis, how it starts…

    If all employees ask for better condition and higher payment, and all the manufacturers care about their staffs… then how it could be??