Sep 2016 - May 2018
EMBAS16 descended into Shanghai and Hangzhou, China for our second international module in early December. A year after our visit to Mumbai, India, we continued our studies of global markets by venturing across the continents – a hallmark of the Oxford EMBA programme.
As an overseas Chinese who grew up in the United States, the journey to the Middle Kingdom has special meanings. While I am there to complete my coursework, I am also there to experience the culture and further discover my own heritage. With its unprecedented rate of development, no two trips to China are ever the same. Each time I land in the Orient, there are always new sights to see and new infrastructure that makes my travel that much easier. While China is constantly changing, one notion that always remains the same is how welcoming the local people are to overseas Chinese like myself.
Led by Professor Eric Thun, we had lectures at the historic Jin Jiang Hotel in Shanghai and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, where we discussed the stages of economic development in China since the launch of its economic reforms under Deng Xiaoping forty years ago. We completed case studies and studied the strategies of foreign companies entering China – the challenges they faced and how they overcame them. We also looked at the rapid development of local firms and how more and more of them are dominating the Chinese market. For me, the highlight of the trip is the actual company visits, where we move outside of the classroom, and into the offices of the domestic and foreign companies operating in China. In Shanghai, I arranged for the class to visit China Insights Consultancy (CIC), the company that my friend, Dion Lou, started after he moved back to China from New York. He gave a presentation on the IPO process in China and how it compared to the IPO process in the United States and Hong Kong, SAR.
One observation I came away with from this trip is that China has entered the innovation stage of its economic development. For example, when it comes to mobile payments, China has already leapfrogged the developed nations. With WePay and AliPay accepted everywhere, cash, credit and debit cards are fast becoming relics of the past in the Middle Kingdom. With the introduction of smart IDs that are connected to your smart phones being tested in select provinces starting in 2018, a smart phone will soon be the only device you need for everything in China. Another observation I made is the growing pride of the Chinese people in their own country. From the taxi driver to the executive of the local firm, you can sense how proud they are of the growth and innovation that are happening in China. Compared to their western counterparts, I find them to be much more optimistic about the future. It will be the combination of this growing pride and optimism that will propel China to even greater heights in the near future.
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