“This is NOT an emerging market,” I said… apparently one too many times…
“You’ve said that enough, Steve,” my colleague said. “We get it. You can’t say that anymore.”
We got into Beijing – China’s capital – a couple of hours ago…
When I first came to China 20 years ago, 80% of the cars on the road were run-down, burgundy Volkswagen Santana taxi cabs. Today, high-end cars like Audis and Teslas were the norm.
The cars on the highway were no different from what you’d see on a U.S. highway – and were potentially even higher-end here in Beijing.
As we left our hotel at the China Central Place commercial district to find some dinner, we passed all of the world’s highest-end luxury shops… No kidding. We passed Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Rolex, Salvatore Ferragamo, Coach, Versace, and many more.
The restaurants were on the sixth floor… Incredibly, the luxury-brand shops covered all five stories as we rode the escalators up. No worries if your Tesla was running a little low on charge… You could charge it at one of the many charging stations in the parking lot while you shopped.
I live in Northeast Florida… and I can’t think of anywhere near home that is as high-end as where I am right now in Beijing. Back home, you’d have to travel hundreds of miles to find a place like this.
Of course, I know that all of Beijing isn’t like this. I’m sure we can (and will) find traditional rickshaws and traditional Mao suits somewhere in Beijing on our trip… But my point is this…
Beijing is a lot more futuristic than you can possibly imagine.
Take your opinions or mental images of Beijing, and throw them out the window. This is NOT an emerging market. Not in the classic sense, at least. When you compare where I am now to a country like India (where I’ve experienced regular power outages and zero infrastructure), this place seems to be working just fine.
The only preconceived notions that I’ve found to be true in my few hours on the ground in Beijing are the smog (my eyeballs hurt), the traffic, and the Internet censorship (forget about Facebook, Google, and Gmail – they don’t work here).
Our next few days are chock-full of meetings, both here in Beijing and in Shanghai. I will certainly learn a lot more. But these first couple hours on the ground – just getting settled in – have been eye-opening.
The conclusion is simple: China is no longer an emerging market… not in the classic sense, anyway. Don’t forget it…