China Tip 13: Centuries-old modernization

Nowadays, anybody arriving at terminal 3 of Beijing Capital Airport disembarks at one of the largest and most modern terminals in the world. Due to the immensity of the building, passengers are transported to their terminals with trains and there is a subway connection to the other terminals. The situation in Shanghai is slightly different. Here people are suspended above the city as they travel into Shanghai with an average speed of 430 km/h in the only open to the public, magnetically driven Maglev train in the world.   

China’s infrastructure and economics are changing rapidly. Numerous Western visitors stare with their mouths agape at the passing landscape on their drive from the airport to the city. They are introduced to a China that is very different from the ‘mysterious China’ they expected to find. They may even discover some similarities to home. 

Whoever thinks that modernization is the same as westernization may possibly be terribly mistaken. Even though we can find many similarities to the Western world, the views, conventions and values are still a part of ancient Chinese culture. It is unlikely that they will change overnight.                                                                  
It may be true that doing business in China will get easier as time progresses. This is, however, the result of an increase in mutual insight and experience and not a consequence of a transformation of ancient Chinese culture.

For that matter, it is not necessary to be a cultural expert to thrive at doing business in China. A little understanding and respect can go a long way.