Our Neighbor to the North-China
A very common conversation in most entrepreneurial circles is the rise and the present potential of our neighbor to the north. From a GDP that begs for attention to a recent number two economic status overtaking Japan, China seems to be glittering. However all that glitters is not gold… or is it. The facts and figures point to the obvious, that China is moving ahead with great speed. Its industrial towns and cities far outpace any production unit. Add to that a work ethic that involves working really hard and we have a winner folks. The products are world standard and their penchant for flawless replication is unmatched.
Ok maybe not so flawless
A few conversations with my entrepreneur friends who regularly visit China has bought me first hand news of what exactly one can expect when they arrive in China. The industrial hub of Shenzen in particular seems to be a sort of Mecca of electronics. Where many markets for electronics simply have everything under one roof or in one building like say in India…. The Chinese have taken their love of emphasizing a point and built entire buildings dedicated to one product. My friend was stunned and overjoyed to see a building dedicated entirely to LED’s, all shapes, sizes and anything to do with LED’s could be found there. He also pointed out how a similar market housed only laptops. On top of all that all these products by Indian standards are quite affordable; the only drawback was that he could not identify any of the brands.
One thing China seems to lack is some language skills…China has an acute dearth of people who speak English; the amount of trouble you can expect if you do not have a grasp of the native tongue is incredible. Expecting a Hindi to Chinese translator to be able to translate properly is also a big risk; your business deal could go for a toss because of one badly interpreted sentence.One friend related how he went into a departmental store pointed to a bottle of water and fingers crossed pronounced “Shu wei” which is Chinese for water. He recalls how after a few thirsty minutes of gesticulation the Chinese attendant finally understood his need for a drink. The problem was not that he did not know the word; the man simply could not understand my friends’ accent. The Chinese only understand us when we speak their language if we pronounce the words with no variation. Try adding a Bengali, Marathi, or French accent to their Chinese and be prepared to be met with blank stares.
Also trying to read signs in China can be a headache and a welcome source of humor. Their rough and ready translations can be a source of mirth and the sillier the translation the better seems to be the rule. It’s not just government institutions that seem to be plagued by this sort of ineptitude, a stay at the Beijing Hilton can be memorable because despite having a staff of over a hundred, there is only a handful who speak English.
Their language skills are holding them back for the moment… Cut to the best comparison we can have between China and India’s prowess... I present India’s Commonwealth Fiasco and Chinas Shining Olympic moment. The corruption and the rot that the CWG have exposed is phenomenal, as an Indian it shames me to say that our country’s governing bodies are utterly incapable of anything other than lining their own pockets. China on the other hand pulled off a seamless operation showing to the world how the Asian giant has now caught up to and surpassed its western counterparts in many ways…There are many things at work behind the two countries failure and success at hosting an international event. China punishes corruption with the death sentence and India takes about twenty years to pass a sentence that by then is a moot point. China’s government is strong and has not budged or changed in forever. India seems to change governments like a diva changes costumes. Our Congress government and its Prime Minister ManMohan Singh is supposed to be really good politically speaking.
Dr. ManMohan Singh has done well, with a nuclear deal despite the opposition and a Congress led government that seems on the whole to be leading India to prosperity. However after the CWG fiasco I am led to believe that India prospers not because of its government but despite it. The CWG preparations started almost seven years ago. We have as proof of their pudding a thorough mess of affairs in the Capital. From crores being siphoned off by bidders bidding over eight times what international firms quoted to treadmills that come with their own German technicians.
China lags behind for only one simple reason and that is the language barrier. Trust me when I say this the day the Chinese government implements a English program that starts earlier than grade six it will not be long before they dominate the world’s economies. India like China is also being held back but for a reason that simply refuses to be acknowledged, Corruption. I believe that China will work its problems out before we do and then we won’t just have an economic giant to worry about but a neighbor to the North that wants more than just market space. Case in point: Google maps that show certain parts of our country in their lands.Photo Courtesy:-
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