We had a 2-hour bus ride to our first site and we were joined by a Pitt alum who shared her experiences on living in China. She previously participated in the Pitt China study abroad program while studying political science and minoring in Chinese. After her intensive Chinese study, she worked for the commerce department and transferred to China. She has learned a lot from living here but mostly she feels that living here on her own has made her much stronger and that she feels she can take on the world. When she first started out, it was hard to communicate with people. When she made friends with Japanese people, they both had to communicate in Chinese, but it was only simple conversation at first. Doing business in China has made her very aware of the difference in business cultures between our two countries. We really need to understand Chinese culture in terms of business to succeed here. Many companies try to expand their business to China but fail because they feel they can continue their business model here and not tailor it to the Chinese culture. We cannot think we have the only way of doing business. During my predeparture research in China, I found that business is more personal here. She confirmed this by telling us how there’s a more familial treatment of the workplace. It’s common here for companies to do team building activities and even go away for week long retreats together. This idea goes back to traditional confusion values. Sometimes it’s hard to get American employees to participate in these activities because they aren’t used to them.
And it continues! Another site that no one could prepare me for: the Yang Shan port, which is a port for container ships. After much research and personal stories shared, I still was not prepared for the sheer magnitude of the shipping port. It was constructed in 2 stages. The first stage was only 6 months and the second stage was not too different from the first in terms of time. This only compliments the fact that China has gone through an amazing spur in growth in the last 40 years. As I looked out onto the sea of shipping containers, I played a game with myself to try and identify as many brands as I could. When we left our prime location and took the bus down the coast, there were even more shipping containers! The most popular item(s) that China imports from the United States are agricultural products such as soybeans.
One of the companies responsible for shipping out the containers is Lingang Group. They are the only state-owned modern logistics enterprise under the Shanghai state-owner commission. They are engaged in investment development and operation of industrial parks and related supporting services. There are 19 logistics companies under the area and they have regional multi-functional warehousing, forming the latest logistics warehousing zone. Since they are government owned, if they want to make upgrades it’s decided by the government. Since e-commerce has become such a large component of China’s economy, the government provides more benefits to companies that use broader e-commerce business. These benefits include tax benefits or decreasing any financial prohibition on that business. And since e-commerce is quite prevalent, the Lingang Group already has plans on e-commerce companies and strategies. They have sent the plans and articles to the management level. As this is the new trend of businesses, they will put forth more effort into innovation across broader e-commerce businesses. Interestingly, their competitor is also state owned because public resources are taken by the state. They ship the most to New Zealand, Belgium, and South Africa. When we went out onto their port, we got to see the ship that ships all the kiwis, the main item shipped to New Zealand. That’s a lot of kiwis! We also saw workers unloading a ship containing cars. It takes about 1 week for them to ship items to their destination, and it takes 2 days to unload the cars. There were about 4,000 cars in the ship we saw. This company works hard to meet its demands by unloading the cars day and night.