Dad SMSed me that the telephone number for Luoyang upgraded to 8 digits. All the original 7-digit telephone numbers will add a “6” to the front. The upgrade will happen on March 21.
I remember the telephone was first installed to my home around 1995. That is about 10 years ago. Before that, it is very rare to have telephone at home in Luoyang. If I want to make a telephone call, I need to go to room at the entrance of my residential area. It is the only one for the whole area. Actually, I seldom need to make a phone call. The only reason is to call my dad. He has a telephone in his office. None of my classmates have telephone at that time. For long distance call, I need to go to post office. Actually I never made a long distance call before telephone comes to my home. At that time, Internet has already generated some usage in U.S; In China, telephone installment is still small. The Spring Festival Eve of 1996 is a great night for me. For the first time, I found out enough numbers that I can call to say “Happy New Year”.
10 years later, the installment of fixed line telephone reached 316 million (by Jan 2005). The mobile phone users are 340 million already, even more than fixed-line users. The last 10 years are amazing for me. 10 years ago, almost none of my friends have fixed-line telephone at home; 10 years later, almost all my friends have mobile phones.
You may understand the difference of doing business in China and in developed countries. When I worked with people in U.S., I got the impression that people in U.S. are relatively slower than in China. They prefer a comprehensive plan, very solid reasoning and data support for every decision. The pace is slow. They are very professional and have great experience, which helped to make right decisions, but the decision making and implementation speed is slow.
In a fast changing society, it may not always work. Something that happened in U.S. in 100 years happens in China in 10 years. The same process may take up to 5 years in U.S, but it only used 1 year in China. Internet is an example – connected user soared from 0.62 million in 1997 to almost 0.1 billion in 2004. In China, risk is more tolerated than in U.S. Speed is the key for many new industries.
10 years ago, the telephone number for my home is 6-digit. Now, it is 8-digit. By no means could I imagine the upgrade when the black, big, shining telephone set was put on to the table of our home.
I’m a marketing consultant in the US so I see just how slow or fast US businesses act and am very aware of the speed of change that takes place in this country. I was laughing while reading your editorial about how much faster Chinese are than Americans.
There are so many things wrong with this post, JianShuo:)
I am also in marketing, working as a marketing research analyst in the us and I do know what you mean. However, its not because Chinese is faster than Americans but because developing countries ‘use’ proven technologies from other developed countries without going through all the initial phase of implementation and research done by say american companies. To say chinese companies move faster using the cell phone (100 yrs to 10 yrs) example is very very short sighted indeed.
Because first, cell phone was invented just recently (20yrs ago maybe) second because every family already had landlines, so cell phone didnt take off as fast as it did in other asian countries. This borrowing of technology make it “seem” that developing countries like India (a better example than China in this case) move faster, but its far from truth and a completely wrong logic.
As for your comment, “They prefer a comprehensive plan, very solid reasoning and data support for every decision”, well dunno how chinese companies base their decisions, but this is how every business decision SHOULD be made, based on very solid reasoning and data support, not guesswork or incomprehensive plan.
In conclusion, yes it is completely wrong in saying americans are slow in implementing business strategies, because this is exactly what we are known for lol. and other developing countries has a lot to learn from usa in this area, coz trust me companies in developing countries are not known for efficency. Oh btw I dont know anything that took 100 years in usa, that took 10 years in China. On the contrary its the opposite :) e.g. just more people are now using phones doesnt mean anything, dont forget the number of years where people didnt buy? Dont confuse growth with history :)
Legendary investor Warren Buffett once said, “Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going.” Speed is definitely important but sound logical analysis and planning are just as important.
I have invested in both American and Chinese companies. A lot of the Chinese companies, especially the family controlled ones, are utterly un professional in their approach and management of businesses. Most of them eventually revealed fraud (not that US companies are immuned, e.g. Enron and Worldcom).
And in their “speed” to expand, a lot of the expansion plans and acquistions of Chinese companies are ill thought out and totally wasteful.
See Chinese Multinational Companies at http://investorsdiary.blogs.com/my_weblog/2005/03/chinese_multina.html
I just want to add to the above. Having said the above, I firmly believe the future belongs to China. China will be the next great superpower. The US with its massive deficit and debts are in a slow decline, just like the UK in the turn of the century. However, it won’t be a smooth ride for China as all emerging markets are subject to drastic booms and busts. China will be no exception.
The US has had debts and deficits before. The strength of the US isn’t its government but its businesses. I see nowhere that its businesses are declining. Indeed, they’re spearheading in practically all directions.
As for China, I wish the best for it. However, it is still controlled by a totalitarian communist government. No freedom of speech, assembly, or press. No democracy.
Given the two, I’ll always bet on the free country. ;-)
Countries’ dominance go in cycles. At one stage, the British Empire had the strongest military in the world, cutting edge technologies, and strong companies. Some may forget that Britain was once described as The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire”. Then during the 1920s Britain over extended itself militarily and in order to pay for its imperial conquests resorted to debasing its currency and running continuous trade and budet deficits. In other words, Britain was a savings short, net “debtor” nation, and the rest of the world was financing her (sounds familiar?).
Meanwhile America was running trade surpluses and was a net “creditor” nation during the 1920s. The US has had deficits before but “never” closed to 6% of GDP which is where it is now. By the way the US is now a net “debtor” nation just like Britain was in the 1920s.
The same process happened hundreds of years ago before Britain involving the great Roman Empire, the Greek empire. Nothing is permanent.
I agree that China is governed by a totalitarian government and lack certain freedoms. That’s why I think the change and transition of China will not be a smooth one and there may be both economical and political booms and busts.
From an investing point of view, when things become the glommiest in China, when it is no longer touted as a “growth miracle”, and when foreign investors have abandoned China, thats the time to invest. The secular ascendency of China is firmly in place.
The US went through the 1920s depression but they emerged as the undisputed world superpower afterwards. A smiliar process may happen to China.
“The strength of the US isn’t its government but its businesses. I see nowhere that its businesses are declining.”
Hah, where is US Steel today? Where is AT&T? Is Lucent still great? To whom did IBM sell a chunk of their core business?
That would be called an informed decision(s). IBM sold a less-than-profitable company, the buyer just happened to be Chinese. And what about steel? China still imports most of it’s steel including scrap. A whole three companies……..who are still based in the U.S.
“The US went through the 1920s depression but they emerged as the undisputed world superpower afterwards. A smiliar process may happen to China.”
The key word in that last sentence is “may”. It may turn out that way. Then again, it may not. I wish China the best of luck and, being a libertarian capitalist, I welcome the competition.
I agree as nothing is certain in the volatile world of politics and economics.
Competition is good as it leads to improvements. It also creates checks and balances in power.
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