Stroll the streets of Zhaoyuan China and all the hustle and bustle must certainly have MAO rolling in his grave. The “great” communist state he attempted to create is dead and gone.
At ground level, the free market is alive and growing. It may be not pretty, a little rough around the edges, but when is progress ever neat and tidy. Mind you, trying to do anything on a larger scale will certainly force you to deal with an all powerful government “beauro”. However, corrupt officials are starting to look over their shoulders and ‘gifts’ are not as frequent as before.
While the west likes to point out how this corruption makes China such a bad place to do business, one should remind our ‘great leaders’, corrupt politicians are not something unique to China….at least in China they are much cheaper then their Canadian counterparts.
The streets are littered with all manner of vendor: store fronts to blankets. Each charging their own price……able to negotiate. No regulatory body dictating prices….. creating a barrier to entry and stifling competition . Want to sell something or offer a service, go for it. A customers dream.
Almost daily, a passerby can see a new business being opened. If you have not witnessed it first hand, the ceremonial setting of fire works will let you know a new business is now on the scene. New rounds of fireworks can be heard at least 2-4 days a week.
Perhaps an economist out there could create a Business indicator based on the number of times a week ‘bang, pop, bang’ can be heard as a means to gauge the business environment? Alas, then that would only lead to someone distorting those figures by funding businesses whose only purpose would be to set off fireworks.
One thing is for sure, if communist means honest, enterprising, welcoming and hard working , then colour me commie red. Stroll the streets at night and you will find vendors simply covering their goods with blankets. Or a lady running a small general store who has a drawer in her table open wide, acting as a cash drawer. The drawer over flows with bills….no armed guards or video camera. Oh did I mention this is a city of 500,000!!
While there are issues on the horizon, yes there is clearly over building in the real estate market and ,boy, is someone going to lose a great deal of money. You get a sense the Chinese will endure, later prevail.
Note: In China, the builders are the ones levered in debt. Anyone buying a house has either cash, saved over a lifetime or a large down payment. Slightly different then Western practices.
Stayed Tuned for lots of updates on Life and Business in China and how we should all be paying attention to the reemergence of the Middle Kingdom.
If you also would like the perspective from a family living in China, be sure to follow The Young Travelling MacNichols