Following a heavy sleep after yesterday’s excursions, I awoke to the sound of the hourly bell toll of the Beijing Railway Station directly across the street. I was soon dressed in business casual attire and headed for the sunshine atrium café. Here, I ate a delicious breakfast unlike any I have had in the past. Noodles, fried rice, curry sausage, spring rolls, red potatoes and bacon filled my plate, which I quickly cleared, as we were to depart soon for the Central University of Finance and Economics. This university (abbreviated CUFE) is highly prestigious and consistently ranks among the best, if not the best, in the country in the areas of finance, economics, business, and management.
We were warmly welcomed and guided to a classroom where we received an enlightening lecture by Kai Yao, a doctoral professor in the field of marketing. After a review of big data processing and techniques to solve its accompanying issues, Dr. Yao explained several key differences between the Chinese market and the American market. To begin, China does not have a credit system. Consequently, customer activities are more difficult to track, and it is easier for a citizen who exercises unscrupulous financial practices to borrow money or more generally engage in business activities. Second, subtle discrepancies exist between Chinese and American shopping techniques. Most Chinese stores consist of narrow aisles, provide small carts, and receive customers that typically purchase few items. This diverges from the wide isles, large carts, and large purchases that are common to American stores. This contrast is due in part to the fact the average family size in China is much smaller than that of the United States, as the number of children in Chinese families is restricted by the government. Third, e-commerce is much more popular in China. As described by Dr. Yao, “e-commerce is a lifestyle in China rather than simply a way to shop”. Much of these electronic transactions occurs on smartphones. In fact, %55 of all Chinese people use a smartphone for payment, which far exceeds the %19 of people who a smartphone for payment in America. As smartphones provide comparable services to a desktop or portable computer at a cheaper price, the Chinese market has experienced a rapid increase in the demand for smartphones in the past decade. As expected, the increase in internet usage in the last decade has occurred in conjunction with the growing popularity of the smartphone since smartphones increase the availability of the internet. This collection of market changes permitted the use of digital payment platforms such as WeChat and Alipay, which now serve as the primary purchasing options in China.
Next, we were introduced to several university students and given a tour of the campus, beginning with the library. Having seen many libraries during my college application/selection process, I can confidently say that this was by far the most advanced, innovative library I have ever entered. This 6 storied building contained a reservation system that permitted students to identify which seat they would occupy. This is implemented to optimize library space and ensure as many students as possible were able to utilize library services. I have noticed that innovations such as these that more efficiently manage resources are more prevalent in China, given that issues of excess demand are more common. The lower level of the library showcased university artwork and photography and a large panel containing the CUFE emblem; a dragon horse spirit. This image embodies the ideals of creativity and innovation that the university strives to instill in its students.
Leaving the library, we were led to the outdoor recreational area of the campus. Here, we bonded with the university students as we engaged in games and activities such as jump rope. This enjoyable experience increased my excitement for our next university visit later in the trip.