America to Japan, but Still in China

Its only our second day in Shanghai, but the trip seems to be ending so fast. The 13-hour flight felt like a month ago, but do we really only have three days left?! Today we had two visits, including the American Chamber of Commerce and Horiba.

I didn’t really know what to expect from AmCham, but it turned out being my favorite visit. The AmCham office turned out to be in the offices located above the auditorium for the acrobatics show. Both of the presenters at AmCham were awesome. Dan works directly for AmCham in government relations for the United States. Chris works at PNC Bank where he deals with businesses’ accounts. Shanghai’s AmCham is unofficially the largest AmCham in the Asia Pacific (China doesn’t allow comparisons of size). It was founded in 1915 and now deals with 1,500 American companies operating in China. One shocking statistic they shared with us is that China is projected to make up 20 percent of the world’s economy by 2020. Only forty years ago, in 1980, China accounted for 1.7 percent of the world’s economy. This rapid growth was a result of two economic reforms. The first was a decolonization of agriculture and an increase in privatization. The second was the lifting of price controls in the housing market. During the worldwide economic recession of 2008 which was centered in America, China’s GDP dipped as well. The government responded with a pretty basic micro/macroeconomics approach and increased government spending to boost its economy. Its continued economic growth isn’t expected to stop either. By 2030, China will have three of the top five cities contributing to global GDP. It is creating a new economic powerhouse zone called the Greater Bay Area (no, not San Francisco). It will include Guangdong, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong; this area will be highly focused on technology. While I could write an entire paper on what I learned from AmCham alone, I’ll stop with those facts that I found most interesting.

After AmCham, we traveled to Horiba. This was our first engineering only focused visit. While I knew I would know nothing, I was excited for all my new engineering friends. Horiba is a Japanese technology company. They operate in five segments: automotive test systems, medical, process and environmental, scientific, semiconductor. One thing I found very interesting during the presentation is that the need for emissions tests is decreasing. It’s expected to stay level for the next 15-20 years, but as more electrical cars are introduced into the market, the less gas or diesel cars will be driven. Therefore, Horiba has been focusing on creating battery tests. Another surprising thing is that Horiba works directly with governments, as consultants, in creating standards for car batteries and emissions tests. This gives them a huge competitive advantage among its competitors since they know what legislative is coming. After the presentation and question and answer, we toured the plant. The first part was the engine emission section. I could not understand a single program or number on the computer screens, but it was still cool to see. Next was the production section where engineers were actively assembling machines. Again, I didn’t really understand it, but it was still neat.

After getting back to the hotel, a group of us decided we had enough Chinese food and opted for a Mexican restaurant. My expectations were pretty low, but it turned out to be very good. It’s nice to have a break from rice, chop sticks, and family style meals.

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