The pace of development in China is breath taking. It isn’t just the size of the business parks – which dwarf anything we have in this country, or the number of blue chip companies vying for a slice of the Asian market. One of the most striking elements of China’s commitment to becoming commercially pre-eminent is the country’s Bullet train.
This phenomenal piece of engineering has slashed the journey time from Shanghai – the burgeoning business centre and Beijing with its universities and research establishments from over eighteen hours to a little over five hours.
It’s almost as though the universities don’t want to waste a second in transporting highly qualified graduates to the multi-national companies eager to make use of their skills.
At least that’s the view of two of our consultants, Hong Qian and David Nightingale when they returned from a business trip to meet their clients recently.
“Improvements in the infrastructure mean that Shanghai isn’t as crowded as you might expect,” says David who first visited China in 1999, adding: “The city is incredibly westernised, but that’s hardly surprising given the city’s strategic importance as a thriving international port. Shanghai was always going to have a Western facing element.”
“Many of our clients have established Research and Development centres in China and the area is becoming increasingly important for our clients wanting to access the Asian market. And that makes China a strategically important country for Oakland,” says Hong.
That importance is underpinned by the fact that Oakland now has five of its team members who are fluent Mandarin and Cantonese speakers.
“The government’s commitment to making the transition from manufacturing to innovation is everywhere. Not just in the number of graduates pouring out of universities each year or the number of skyscrapers and palpable atmosphere of prosperity, but in the sheer volume of companies who have chosen to locate their Research and Development – in effect their futures – in the country,” says Hong.
But the pace of change does come at a price even for someone like Hong who was born in China.
“Six months can be a long time in China and when I went to my home town to visit my family, so much had changed since my last visit, that I actually got lost.”
March 24th - 2012 Oakland