It has often been noted that China is really good at making things at a low price. But can it create? Can it create another Apple?
There are a whole lot of young Chinese entrepreneurs who are trying to prove the doubters wrong and many are well on their way to doing so. Entrepreneurship is taking off like a rocket here and the government is providing a lot of the fuel.
It occurred to me recently, however, that perhaps the world needs to worry less about how creative the Chinese are and more about how clever they are. There is a difference. The former may make the world yearn; the latter makes the world go ‘round.
In downtown Beijing this past week, at one of the city’s busiest intersections, there is a ten-lane bridge, complete with clover leafs, that needed repair. Instead they replaced the whole thing – all 10 lanes – and the entrances and exits – replaced, mind you, in exactly 43 hours.
That’s right, from the time traffic was stopped until the time traffic was flowing smoothly again along all 10 entirely new lanes the total elapsed time was 43 hours. And even the lane lines were in place.
And the company responsible actually apologized for being a little late and inconveniencing the public.
How long would it take to totally rebuild a ten-lane bridge in your place of residence?
You can watch a time-lapse video of the process on YouTube but I can’t give you the address because I can’t access YouTube. But I have seen it on Chinese social media and it is one of the most incredible spectacles I have ever witnessed.
Okay, we know they’re not magicians. So, how did they do it?
Of course they worked around the clock and threw an army of workers at it. But more than anything else they were very clever in how they planned the whole thing out. Essentially, they pre-built the bridge and then moved it into place after tearing out the old one. Sounds simple enough. But why don’t they do that in the US or other developed countries?
Creative is good. In fact, it’s great.
But will creative or clever be more important in the new world order? Does it matter who can come up with the best ideas or who can bring them to reality more quickly? And what if one country can do both?
Another example: The Beijing Subway has 18 lines, 319 stations, and 527 km (327 mi) of track in operation. It provided 3.41 billion trips in 2014 with a peak daily ridership of 11.6 million people.
And most of that expansion has occurred since 2002. In fact, much of it has occurred since 2008. Average daily ridership has increased six-fold in the last decade alone.
Again I ask, how long has your local city been planning to expand public transportation in your area? Does it really matter if they haven’t actually done it?
To my friends and family in the US, Happy Thanksgiving. I dearly hope that you are grateful for all you have. I am truly grateful to have you.
The first reviewer on Amazon had this to say about Understanding China:
“I’m only partway through the book, but I had to jump on and say, “Read this!”
Having done business and gone on personal journeys through the Asia Pacific region, I wish I’d read a book like this first…”
Note: The views expressed in this post are strictly those of the writer acting in a personal capacity.
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