China – Under The Hood: Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil

Yesterday’s autumnal afternoon was typical of late: drizzling, murky and, if you found yourself in the middle of Hangzhou’s snarling traffic, chaotic. Thanks to a very impressive and convenient public bicycle system, I was cycling along minding my own business when, without warning, a real nasty piece of work, the local equivalent of a Hell’s Angel on an electric-bicycle, the ultimate street menace, tried to squeeze in front of the metre distance separating my pedal bicycle and the plastic bollard dividing our bicycle lane from the regular traffic lane. Unluckily for me his sudden, impulsive, totally devoid of conscience, maneuver was never going to work and I came off much worse in what was another surreal Hangzhou moment.

Within a flash there’s spread-eagled me and a mangled bicycle sprawled on the grimy black surface. The first thought to enter my mind was whether I should get up and strangle him? Meanwhile, the peloton of E-bikes and bicycles behind me had stopped. Waiting in readiness:

Urchin, with the jumpy smile, and everyone else from ‘rent a crowd’, was impassively staring at me waiting for me to pick myself up. Not one helping hand 漠不关心 (‘mo bu guan xin’ or “completely unmoved or indifferent) as I lay there.

Amid the spectators and the ‘raring to go’ din of more and more impatient bicycle bells, honking e-bike and motorised tricycle horns and blackboard screeching brakes no more than two or three metres behind me, I could hear the repeated words “你看他是老外!”, or simply “老外!” (‘ni kan ta shi lao wai’ a derogatory term for “foreigner”, “look he’s a foreigner!”).

As soon as I managed to shove the bicycle a few inches out of the way with my foot the horde was once again on the move, cautiously filing through the narrow gap I had created, all wearing the same sheepish gaze I have witnessed so many times while living in China: The ‘Three Wise Monkeys’ code of silence ― ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.’ What happens to a stranger outside their immediate comfort zone of family and friends is none of their business, so best to flee rather than be blamed for any injuries the “老外” lao wai may have sustained.

No doubt I’d be the topic of conversation amid the cacophony of slurps over their next bowl of noodles. Now looking back, I am rather surprised that for added conversational embellishment one of the quick thinking onlookers didn’t have the ‘cop on’ to take out her iPhone and snap a photo of me sprawled on roadside with wrecked bicycle. On second thoughts such an exercise would have risked losing the Teacup Poodle peeking out of her designer handbag. In any case, I seriously doubt that any conversation about me would have decried the pathetic apathy or laziness of the renmin who left me on the ground, not bothering to offer any assistance: 漠不关心.

China Under The Hood - Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil - Something like 1,000,000 electric bicycles stalk the streets of Hangzhou
Something like 1,000,000 electric bicycles stalk the streets of Hangzhou

As for me I finally made my way to the hospital.

I couldn’t wrap up this exposé from the harmonious society of Hangzhou without a special mention about local hospitality as witnessed yesterday: Mind numbing, really touching indeed. It certainly gives a special resonance to the recent incident down in Foshan City where little Wang Yue was run over by two vans and ignored by 18 passers-by http://wp.me/p15Yzr-jJ.

The ethic of the jungle ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,’ looking out for yourself, may have been expedient in the dark days of Mao Zedong’s revolution. However, here in a China subjected to dramatic economic and social changes in nearly all aspects of life on an unprecedented scale, the gazes of indifference and lack of compassion for a fellow human being, as witnessed yesterday, patently reveal a public engulfed by a great moral vacuum, empty of imagination, hope and of any future… not really the hallmarks of a harmonious society.

Accurate China Insight: How many people from Ireland are living and doing business in China?

As a Chinese language student studying in Beijing in 1989 I recall when all 8 members of the Irish community living in Beijing were evacuated by the Embassy to the safety of Hong Kong, following the June 3rd / 4th massacre in Tiananmen Square. It was a time when down in Shanghai the view from ‘The Bund’ (Wai Tan) across the Huangpu River to Shanghai’s Pudong district offered little more than a jumble of old low-rise warehouses, residential units and farming lots. Foreigners were few and far between. Living in China was considered at best a hardship posting.

Accurate China Insight - Irish population in China

Now, following the establishment in China of close to 150 Irish-owned business operations led by Glen Dimplex, CRH, Treasury Holdings, PCH and Kerry Group, etc, an influx of teachers from Ireland to teach English, and Irish graduates attracted by the growing range of job opportunities on offer to Irish candidates, the number living and working in China (including Hong Kong and Macau) has increased to at least 3,000 Irish citizens (Source: http://www.thepost.ie/themarket/china-in-your-hands-54873.html), an estimate, based on the numbers of citizens registered with the Embassy in Beijing and Consulate in Shanghai, and the volume of consular business (including passport applications, other document applications and consular assistance) conducted.

However, this number is likely to be at the low end of the spectrum simply because:

  1. there is no obligation on Irish residing in China to register with the Embassy and Consulate; and
  2. many Irish scattered across China in cities such as Hangzhou, Urumqi, Changchun, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Dalian, Ningbo, Qingdao, Tianjin and Xiamen, etc., probably haven’t registered with the Embassy or Consulate.

The total number of foreigners living in China at the end of 2010 was about 600,000 people according to the latest Population Census. According to the Xinhua News Agency:

the top three home countries of the foreigners were the Republic of Korea (ROK), the United States and Japan. Among the foreigners living on the Chinese mainland, 56.62 percent or 336,245 were males and 43.38 percent or 257,587 were females”.

Note: The Embassy and Consulate are restricted in law in how the citizens register is used and cannot make it available outside the Embassy and Consulate. The more people who register with them the more accurate the estimate can be.

Sources:
The Sunday Business Post-

http://www.thepost.ie/themarket/china-in-your-hands-54873.html

Xinhua-

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-04/29/c_13851456.htm

Accurate China Blog http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=1whhJh5C+5Y=

Niall O’Reilly

Accurate Ireland – China Product & Business Development (Export Sourcing Import) Consultancy

Tel: +353 1271 1830 / +86 15257194468

http://www.accuratelimited.com

China – Under The Hood: Tinder box – China’s long hot summer

It’s the height of summer here in Hangzhou and it’s extremely hot…. Like sizzling! However, the degree of how hot varies between what is official and what the common man and woman on the street knows and feels.

Official hot (government offices, factories, etc are mandated to close if the official temperature hits 40 degrees Celsius) versus unofficial hot: Mary, who runs the GoMax tea and fruit drink outlet near my apartment, insists her thermometer showed an outside temperature reading of 42 degrees Celsius, but officially it was still 37 degrees Celsius.

People like Mary are increasingly aware of the alternative perspective: The truth uniquely experienced and the massive amount of shared beliefs gleaned from micro-blogging websites such as Sina Weibo.   Worn out by the never-ending official pronouncements, a tinder box situation of growing antipathy towards the way Official China is being run and directed is palpable.

Today, China’s rising prices, ever increasing income disparities, a mode of governance that pursues rapid economic growth and infrastructue development above all else, unrelenting corruption scandals, and a lack of transparency and accountability are testing this populace like never before.

And the spark?

Translation: “The Derailed Country

You ask, why are they acting like a bunch of lunatics?

They think they’re the picture of restraint.

You ask, why can’t they tell black from white, fact from fiction?

They think they’re straight shooters, telling it like it is.

You ask, why are they running interference for murders?

They think they’ve thrown their friends under the bus. And they’re ashamed.

You ask, why all the cover-ups?

They think they’re letting it all hang out.

You ask, why are they so irretrievably corrupt?

They think they’re hardworking and plain-living.

You ask, why are they so infuriatingly arrogant?

They think they’re the picture of humility.

You feel like you’re the victim. So do they.

They think: “During the Qing Dynasty, no one had television. Now everyone has a television. Progress!”

They think: “We’re building you all this stuff, what do you care what happens in the process? Why should you care who it’s really for, so long as you get to use it? The train from Shanghai to Beijing used to take a whole day. Now you’re there in five hours (as long as there’s no lightning). Why aren’t you grateful? What’s with all the questions?

“Every now and then, there’s an accident. The top leaders all show how worried they are. We make someone available to answer journalists’ questions. First we say we’ll give the victims 170,000 kuai apiece. Then we say we’ll give them 500,000. We fire a buddy of ours. We’ve done all that, and you still want to nitpick? How could you all be so close-minded? You’re not thinking of the big picture! Why do you want us to apologize when we haven’t done anything wrong? It’s the price of development.

“Taking care of the bodies quickly is just the way we do things. The earlier we start signing things, the more we’ll have to pay out in the end. The later we sign, the smaller the damages. Our pals in the other departments—the ones who knock down all the houses—taught us that one. Burying the train car was a bonehead move, true, but the folks upstairs told us to do it. That’s how they think: if there’s something that could give you trouble, just bury it. Anyway, the real mistake was trying to dig such a huge hole in broad daylight. And not talking it over with the Propaganda Department beforehand. And not getting a handle on all the photographers at the site. We were busy, ok? If there’s anything we’ve learned from all this, it’s that when you need to bury something, make sure you think about how big it is, and make sure you keep the whole thing quiet. We underestimated all that.”

They think that, on the whole, it was a textbook rescue operation—well planned, promptly executed, and well managed. It’s a shame public opinion’s gotten a little out of hand, but they think, “That part’s not our responsibility. We don’t do public opinion.”

They’re thinking: “Look at the big picture: We had the Olympics, we canceled the agricultural tax, and you guys still won’t cut us a break. You’re always glomming on to these piddling little details. No can-do spirit. We could be more authoritarian than North Korea. We could make this place poorer than the Sudan. We could be more evil than the Khmer Rouge. Our army’s bigger than any of theirs, but we don’t do any of that. And not only are you not thankful, but you want us to apologize! As if we’ve done something wrong?”

Society has people of means, and those without. There’s people with power, and those that have none. And they all think they’re the victim. In a country where everyone’s the victim, where the classes have started to decouple from one another, where it’s every man for himself, in this huge country whose constituent parts slide forward on inertia alone—in this country, if there’s no further reform, even tiny decouplings make the derailings hard to put right.

The country’s not moving forward because a lot of them judge themselves as if Stalin and Mao were still alive. So they’ll always feel like the victim. They’ll always feel like they’re the enlightened ones, the impartial ones, the merciful ones, the humble ones, the put-upon ones. They think the technological drumbeat of historical progress is a dream of their own making.
The more you criticize him, the more he longs for autocracy. The more you gaomao him (piss him off), the more he misses Mao.

A friend in the state apparatus told me, “You’re all too greedy. Forty years ago, writers like you would’ve been shot. So you tell me, have things gotten better, or have they gotten worse?”

I said, “No, you’re all too greedy. Ninety years ago, that kind of thinking would have gotten you laughed out of the room. So you tell me: after all that, have things gotten better, or have they gotten worse?”

Source:

Attributed to China blogger Han Han and posted on Sina Weibo 27th July 2011 (it was subsequently deleted). 23 July 2011, two high-speed CRH ‘Harmony’ trains collided on a viaduct in the suburbs of Wenzhou, in southern Zhejiang province killing at least 40 people. Inept officials reacted to the accident by hurriedly finishing rescue operations and ordering the burial of the derailed cars. Result: Uproar.

http://chinageeks.org/2011/07/han-han-the-derailed-country/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Accurate China Insight: If your business is product sourcing: How competitive is the ‘Made in China’ brand?

Despite the Chinese Government’s past success at restraining inflation, accelerating food, fuel, raw material and labour costs have resulted in a widely held belief that average inflation rates of 4 to 5 percent are here to stay in China, at least over the over the next decade.

Which raises the question: With rises in wage and manufacturing costs set to be the norm is China still competitive as a product source for Ireland’s importers? Accurate China Insight: If your business is product sourcing: How competitive is the 'Made in China' brand?

Ireland’s importers are right to exercise caution when sourcing from China.  However, China still has much working in its favour:

  1. China is politically stable, and such stability is good for business
  2. Low cost countries surrounding China are also weathering an inflation contagion, with inflation rates in Vietnam, India and Pakistan increasing at a much faster rate.

June 2011 Inflation Rates:

Vietnam 20.8%

Pakistan 13.3%

India 8.7%

China 6.4%

Indonesia 5.5%

Malaysia 4.6%

Philippines 4.6%

Thailand 4.1%

(Sources: Respective country central banks) 

3.  Production costs in China are still low, despite rising costs.

4. Skills levels are generally high. While China’s factories could be said to be still at an early stage in their execution of innovative manufacturing techniques, their production processes are still well ahead of similar production operations in surrounding low cost countries.

5.  The striking effects of the ‘Clustering’ in China’s three economic powerhouses [Pearl River Delta (from Hong Kong to Guangzhou), Yangtze River Delta (Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai) and the area around Beijing and Tianjin] which have resulted in the construction of excellent infrastructure, a concentrated material supply chain, and an experienced and skilled labour force.  There is no evidence of such a clustering blend being prevalent in other surrounding low-cost countries.

6.  Productivity and industry familiarity.  While the costs of labour and logistics, as well as labour availability, are driving up factory output costs along China’s coastal rim, cities in central and China, such as Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Zhengzhou and Hefei, and their surrounding provinces, are much more cost competitive with respect to the manufacture of products in which the value-added and process complexity is low.  Meanwhile, the coastal manufacturing hubs, with their knowledge of particular manufacturing industry sectors, are becoming more focused on complex, skill intensive factory production.  In surrounding low cost countries such instances of high productivity levels and industry knowledge are limited.

The biggest issue for Ireland’s importers relates to fluctuating oil prices and their impact on the cost of shipping products sourced from China to Ireland, which is a worldwide occurrence.

Source:

Niall O’Reilly

Director for China, Irish Exporters Association

Accurate Ireland – China Business Advisers – Products & Services Sourcing | Business Development Consultancy

Tel: +353 1271 1830 / +86 15257194468

http://www.accuratelimited.com

China – Under The Hood: New KFC China advertising campaign promotes Ireland to huge domestic audience

Finger lickin’ good news for Tourism Ireland’s efforts in China to draw attention to Ireland‘s natural beauty. KFC China has recently launched a really creative advertising campaign which markets Ireland and Bailey’s fried chicken flavour to China-wide TV / social media audiences and customers in 3,800 outlets throughout China.

Judging from the coverage on LCD TV displays in office and apartment complexes here in Hangzhou, the exposure of Ireland’s natural beauty to China’s urban fast food consuming masses is far and wide.

Wondering if this campaign was an initiative of Tourism Ireland, or Baileys (Diageo), or solely a KFC (Yum! Brands) initiative?

No matter. KFC is widely acclaimed as the most successful foreign company operating in China, its success widely attributed to the adaption of its menus to local tastes following extensive research. That KFC China appreciates the revenue generating potential of the Ireland brand in China provides a clear indication of the opportunities for our tourism, food and education sectors, if properly promoted and coordinated. Just look at the success New Zealand enjoys with respect to China market access!

Check this video out (Youku is China’s equivalent of Youtube)

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjYyOTg4MjA0.html

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

China – Under The Hood: The Curious Case of the Ireland Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo 2010: Rebuilt in Zhejiang Province or Tianjin?

According to a local Chinese language newspaper, the Ireland Pavilion is to be demolished by end of April and then moved to Keqiao (http://www.chinashaoxing.com/english/), a non-descript city in Shaoxing County, Zhejiang Province, which is not far from Hangzhou.

The cost of demolition and reconstruction is estimated at about RMB 10 million (or Euro 1.1 million at today’s rate), and compares to the reported Euro 9 million cost of building and running the Ireland Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010.

Chen Qimiao, respected local bigshot, a.k.a. Secretary-General, Shaoxing County Textile Services Designers Association is behind the move, which will see the Ireland Pavilion reconstructed as a fashion culture landmark in Keqiao, highlighting the innovative side of Shaoxing‘s traditional textile industry.

The outcome, according to the article, was negotiated directly with the Irish Government.

http://www.shaoxing.com.cn/news/content/2011-03/02/content_576433.htm

And yet there are others who claim to have inside knowledge the Ireland Pavilion was gifted by the Department of Taoiseach (the one from Offaly) to Tianjin city for an ‘Ireland village project‘. “…Don’t believe the Keqiao scam” says ZWQ (Patrick) of the Ireland China Business Network (ICBN) … “the Irish government owes money to the builder of the pavilion in China and has agreed to use the building material (after it’s demolished) to offset against the outstanding balance. The (Irish) government has never authorised anybody other than Tianjin city government to rebuild the pavilion. The officials from Tianjin came to Ireland to sign the memorandum. The builder might have sold the material to this guy in Keqiao“.

An Irish solution to an Irish problem? No matter who and where, the curious case of the Ireland Pavilion can certainly be explained by someone in the Department of Taoiseach.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Accurate China Insight: This Tiger will have teeth

For the Year of the Ox, the consequence of all the economic uncertainty caused by the global financial crisis, and the resultant recession and slump in world trade was a business environment clearly dominated by a mood of moderation and caution. The celebrations of many people in China‘s entrepreneurial heartland of Zhejiang to welcome the Ox were tempered with bitterness as exports to traditional overseas markets evaporated and the economy cooled to its slowest pace in years.

However, signs were already emerging that recovery, at least in China, was at hand, as consumer spending remained resilient and investment growth grew stronger, spurred on by the proactive Central Government stimulus package of  RMB4 trillion, announced the previous November, and an active government role in economic development.  Local governments across Zhejiang from Hangzhou to Linhai and Ningbo to Jiaxing sent trade and investment missions around the world declaring they were open for business, while Microsoft’s decision in May to locate its first Cloud Computer Centre in Hangzhou and deem the city a model for innovation and protection of intellectual property was very encouraging news.

Despite the economic stimulus, everyone in business seemed to tighten their belts and worked harder than ever to keep their clients. The Ox was an ultra-practical time where innovation, while nice to have, was deemed superfluous. With established businesses focused on consolidation and sticking to tried and tested strategies, Zhejiang’s celebrated entrepreneurial spirit was tested to its limit. Those entrepreneurs committed to setting up new business ventures in creative enterprises such as new media, or even trying to stay in business, would have found the Year of the Ox a difficult period to raise the necessary capital in such an overly cautious investment environment.

The characteristics of the tiger, an animal of momentum, energised, hasty in action, fearless, displaying a willingness to engage in battle appropriately describe a Year of the Tiger traditionally associated with great change, wars, social upheaval and catastrophes.  As such, following on from the reflective, conservative Ox, the Year of the Tiger is very likely to be a year of extremes and instability not just on the world scene, but also in business.

Despite the unpredictability, the Tiger symbolises a year where people are more optimistic and take more risks. Opportunities lie in wait for those in business who approach the Year of the Tiger with caution, are mature in the battles they want to fight, and who avoid making hasty decisions particularly in relation to new business partnerships and agreements. The Tiger is also a good time to add the momentum necessary to push forward slow-moving business initiatives, as this may well be the year when they take off.

So after a miserable Year of the Ox, this all means that the Year of the Tiger has to be better, right? Think again. The bill for staving off the global financial crisis from hitting China’s economy is coming due and the central government is already taking a long hard look at what it has to show for the trillions of RMB¥ it pumped into the economy. Meanwhile, growth in the global economy remains elusive at best, which raises the prospect that economic growth in China may falter as the stimulus diminishes.

With the global economy hobbling along, the prospect of multilateral cooperation fixing the worlds ills has taken a backward step, as evident in the recent breakdown of the Copenhagen Climate Summit.  Unfortunately, as a result, there is the real potential for trade pressures between China, the US and Europe to explode in the Year of the Tiger, with the RMB¥ to US$ peg becoming even more of an issue in China’s bilateral relations as governments among its main trading partners grapple with rising unemployment rates.

Given that an act of terrorism can upset markets anytime, the risk of further sovereign defaults, and that treating the symptoms of the global finance crisis are not the same as removing the causes (the markets could nose-dive again) the Year of the Tiger is sure to be volatile, while the Year of the Rabbit in 2011 will be a much easier time for all!

 

Accurate China Insight - Year of the Tiger

China – Under The Hood: Night-train K8401- A Cheesy Moment?

It’s 0.32 hrs, early Wednesday morning, on rattler K8427 and we’re rolling along towards Hangzhou East Station, having just pulled out of characterless SongJiang (I guess everywhere is inexpressive when its pitch black outside).

Two more stops to endure: Like time without end in this oppressively hot sardine can, stuffed to the gills with wilting, almost comatose, travellers.  In any manner whatever dishevelled bodies covered with sweat, are crushed, wedged, packed, and squeezed into seats and each other. Faces, compressed into table tops and plastic bags crammed full with life possessions, compete for space with those two standard trappings for such idle moments: melon seeds and screw-top jars.

Great China Railway Journey: Night-train K8401- A Cheesy Moment Packed Train Shanghai Hangzhou

Great China Railway Journey: Night-train K8401- A Cheesy Moment Packed Train Shanghai Hangzhou

To rise above the tedium of the travel, passengers, those that are still of sound mind, delight in picking, cracking open and chewing melon seeds (now I know what the long pointed nails are for, working much more effectively than teeth), while another infallible remedy are the jars filled to the brim with tea, the fuel that drives China’s blue-collar classes.

The carriage is unventilated and airless, while the railway car attendant is swabbing the floor under my feet with a filthy black mop, the same one she has just used to clean the toilet.

The commuter across the way has his shirt rolled halfway up his chest, a nauseating waft of cigarette smoke permeates the space between us, and I find myself envisioning two very smelly French delicacies:

  • Vieux Boulogne, the foul-smelling ‘chou dofu’ of cheeses, the smelliest cheese known to man, is said to smell like a product from a cow’s ass, rather than its udders, which adequately describes the stench originating from the toilet.
  • Pont l’Eveque, the Durian of cheeses, is one of the world’s oldest cheeses and dating back a couple of hundred years actually smells that old, its pong bearing a very strong resemblance to the overpowering odour emanating from this gentleman’s sweat soaked, decaying socks.
“…foul smelling French cheese…”
Durian
Durian
Chou Dofu

And for all this entertainment only RMB 25 (Euro 2.60), the price of the ticket from Shanghai South Station.

Noodle Shop sneezing fit: A really nauseating experience!

So I was hungry, needed an emergency pit-stop, and what better place to refuel than at the local noodle shop I’ve been frequenting for over a year? Or so I thought.

I am eating my bowl of noodles, minding my own business, watching the cook stirring his noodle soup pot, and the pedestrian traffic outside on the street …. when all of a sudden yer man the cook has a sneezing fit, and then again and again…

Suddenly he has his fingers on his nose to defecate, but he is still sneezing, and it’s all over his hand…. he flips his hand and splat right into the soup the clingy  mucous goes, following which he wipes his nose with the grubby sleeve of his white jacket and continues stirring his stock soup…

I mean how totally gross is that?!!!

…Oh and I didn’t finish my noodles.

Chinese sneezing fit  noodle chef

Local Chinese advice (1):

“If he (the cook) brought the soup to a boil, then there’s nothing to worry about”

Local Chinese advice (2):

“…there is a Chinese saying: ‘It’s clean if you do not see it’…… Oh and never try to ask them to make a new dish for you .  The cook probably would spit in the dish before remaking the dish and giving it back to you. He’ll get really upset as you give his boss a chance to punish him and he loses face. You could ask for a discount, much safer”.

Local foreigner advice (1):

“At least you can see the noodle guys preparing the food.  Imagine what they would do if you couldn’t see them.

Local foreigner advice (2):

“I am always super-cool to the noodle guys at my local noodle shop… they all know me, and they always seem to show me a little extra love when I order a bowl. However, I have made a point of NOT paying close attention to how they knock out my order. Ignorance is bliss”.

Buy China or Bye Ireland?

The Chinese New Year Holiday that ushered in the Year of the Ox was a forlorn time for me as everyone I knew fled the city of Hangzhou to the homes of parents and grandparents in far away towns and villages. As usual I had left it too late to buy any plane or train tickets to whisk me away to a far flung place of my own. So I was left to the mercies of my new Dell notebook and the Internet.

Really, what a downer!!…. I mean the myriad Irish newspapers and blogging websites I found myself reading…  A lot of Ireland‘s current economic problems seem to stem from our national trait for talking ourselves up, to the point of being infallible, when the economy is
going great, and then talking ourselves, seriously deep deep, down when the economy skids and hits the buffers. So many of the grim reapers write Armageddon-like as if Ireland is descending into financial oblivion.

Irish news media should start printing and broadcasting the following Health Warning:

If you keep reading the newspapers / or listening to the news about our economic meltdown you are either going to become severely depressed or cut your throat, or, alternatively, you can take the bull (or Ox) by the horns and assume a manner of optimism, be more cheerful, and accept that what goes up must come down before going back up again.

Year of the Ox - Grab the bull by the horns

Recessions are a part of life to be followed by progression. 

Anyway, the more I read, the more it became apparent to me that China should be viewed as an essential partner in restoring and maintaining Ireland’s economic stability.

Over the next decade China’s huge economic potential is likely to present more business, educational, and cultural opportunities for Ireland than any other country.

Consider the fact that despite the breakneck development of China over the last 30 years to become the world’s third largest economy, in 2007 its population of 1.3 billion still only enjoyed a per capita GDP that was 1/14th of the European Union average.

History shows us that it would be foolhardy indeed not to recognise that we are still in the very early stages of China’s re-emergence.

If there is one country that can quickly navigate the global slowdown it is China.  Even at an annual growth rate of to 7 to 8% forecast for 2009, which for China is a recession, China is still contributing more to global growth than any other country.  What’s more China’s own development, and the importance of growing prosperity, will require further substantive economic reforms to make sure growth is stable and sustainable.

China is already the 2nd largest outside the EU for Irish exports, and at a time of weakness in all of Ireland’s traditional export markets, developing China market opportunities is even more important as a driver of Ireland’s future growth.

And so my Year of the Ox resolution is to be patient, diligent and inspire confidence in others, such that come year-end Accurate will at last be viewed as a key channel for developing profitable China / Ireland business.

As we say in Ireland: “Feck the begrudgers!”