Focus on… China

Dalian, China

Dalian, China

My family has a history with China. In the late 1980’s, my mom – Janie Sykes-Kennedy – was invited by the U.S. Housing & Urban Development and the Department of Commerce as one of 14 delegates to go to the People’s Republic of China on the first trade mission of American women. After that trip, she secured a contract from the China Building Technology Center and started a new company, China Today, Inc., which for five years, distributed a journal called Building in China. During that time, my sister – Sheila Kennedy Bryant – studied at Hebei University outside of Beijing. My youngest first cousin, Keith Carter, is fluent in Mandarin – a language I’ve always been fascinated with but have not tackled yet!

A few years ago, I was in Beijing and Shanghai with my sister. We survived The Great Wall - even though it was a rainy and cold November. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Great Wall is certainly a site to visit. Tiananmen Square - one of the largest squares in the world and site of the 1989 protests – is another awe-striking venue both for its size and its historical context. Shanghai has always struck me as “Times Square on steroids” with its bright lights and kenetic energy. To balance that energy, we made it a point to visit various temples and museums, as well as the largest yoga centers in both major centers!

In September 2009, I participated in the “Summer Davos” Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2009 in Dalian. Dalian is the second largest city of Liaoning Province in Northeast China. Famous for its beaches, it is a seaport city located west of the Yellow Sea and east of Bohai Sea. Hosted by the World Economic Forum, the program focused on “Relaunching Growth” with particular emphasis on how entrepreneurship, innovation and technology will drive a transformational recovery for the long term. As part of the Young Global Leaders Dalian Summit, I presented an initiative on global health. View pictures from the event. En route from China, I also visited Seoul, Korea. View pictures from Seoul.

With archaeological evidence dating back over 5,000 years, China has one of the world’s oldest civilizations and is credited for laying the foundation for various inventions such as paper, gunpowder, credit banking, the compass and paper money. Now with the world’s fastest-growing economy and a population of 1.34 billion people (UN, 2009), China has become an important modern player. China is the largest oil consumer after the US, and the world’s biggest producer and consumer of coal. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), commonly known as China, has control over mainland China and the largely self-governing territories of Hong Kong (since 1997) and Macau (since 1999). The Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan, has control over the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu. Although Beijing is the capital of China, Shanghai is the largest city. Hu Jintao is the President of the People’s Republic of China and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Wen Jiabao is the Premier of China.


  • Full name: People’s Republic of China
  • Population: 1.34 billion (UN, 2009)
  • Capital: Beijing
  • Major language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Major religion: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism
  • Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN)


    Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China

    Premier Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China

    Premier Wen Jiabao opened the World Economic Forum’s 2009 Annual Meeting of the New Champions. He assured participants that China had halted “the downturn in economic growth.” He emphasized that the Chinese stimulus plan “focuses on expanding domestic demand,” encourages innovation in science and technology, and increases both rural and urban employment. For example, during the first seven months of 2009, the Chinese economy grew 7.1%, creating 6.6 million jobs in urban areas. Wen also called on the international community to join with China in tackling climate change, opposing protectionism, promoting sustainable recovery of the world economy and protecting intellectual property rights. Furthermore, he specifically asked that the World Economic Forum focus on strategies to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, particularly with regard to social welfare in the developing world. “The dark cloud of the global financial crisis will disperse. Let us work together for a more splendid and promising future.”

    Globally, the median age is 27, and the demands of that generation will shape the world to come.

    In a panel on “Recalibrating Global Demand,” the point was made that the potential for emerging markets to become global consumption engines is enormous. If per capita income in China and India were to approach the level enjoyed by the developed economies today, the two Asian giants would each account for 20% of global GDP – while the US and Europe would have 5% each. It was also highlighted that the nature of consumption will change not only because of the geographical and cultural shift in the source of demand, but also because of climate change and the global response to it. Consumers will increasingly demand environmentally sustainable goods. Governments can speed up this process with incentives for the purchase of energy-efficient cars and houses. Businesses should regard this trend not as a constraint to growth but an opportunity to build new industries and products.

    “We cannot use old ways to do our business,” said Liu Jiren, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Neusoft Corporation, People’s Republic of China. “We need to change from export-led to domestic consumption-driven models.” In particular, business and governments must focus on creating and meeting consumer demand in emerging markets. Essential to that is meeting demand for environmentally sustainable products and socially conscious business practices. The green economy in particular “is an opportunity to grow jobs everywhere,” said Sharan Burrow, President, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Belgium. Globally, the median age is 27, and the demands of that generation will shape the world to come. Talent will be diffuse and “globalization 2.0” will mean “brands from all over the world will compete with brands from all over the world,” explained Ben J. Verwaayen, Chief Executive Officer, Alcatel-Lucent, France. “We’d better prepare ourselves for new choices.”


    Starbucks in Dalian

    Starbucks in Dalian

    The global population is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, driven largely by growth in developing countries and countries with lower per-capita income. Projected rises in the GDP of developing countries are expected to accompany a three-fold increase in the number of middle-income consumers. By 2025 there are expected to be 220 million middle-income consumer households in China alone – approximately four times as many as there were in 2004. There will also be a rise in global affuence and associated consumption which will put increasing stress on the Earth’s ecosystems. According to WWF, humanity’s “ecological footprint” (a measure of the pressure on Earth from human consumption of natural resources) has increased to 125% of global carrying capacity and could rise to 170% by 2040.

    The current consumption model of “abundance of good” exacerbates the negative effects on the planet.

    In the session on “Stimulating Sustainable Consumption,” studies were discussed that suggested that the happiness curve over time goes down as consumption increases, which seems to indicate that consumption is more about social relations than happiness. Yet, the current consumption model of “abundance is good” remains dominant, exacerbating the negative effects on the planet. What is the solution? The world is not going to stop consuming altogether. Instead, the panelists proposed making products that are designed to last, use sustainable production materials and are still attractive to consumers. They suggested that concepts such as “green mobility” be internalized. For example, in aviation, changes such as reducing the weight of aircraft and adopting new technologies can trim fuel consumption. The frequency of travel can also be cut back. For example, at Cisco, staff travel has been reduced by 30% thanks to the use of videoconferencing.


    Volunteer University Students

    Volunteer University Students

    Education around the world is in peril. In developing countries, 85-90% of university graduates are considered to have inadequate training to pursue careers in their areas of study. On the session, “Education for the Next Wave of Growth,” panelists discussed how educational systems can become more aligned with the skills required by industry. The general consensus was that the private sector needs to be brought into the process of curriculum development and that creating classes of entrepreneuers will ultimately help students go from being employees to employers.

    The private sector currently complains that graduates are unable to make and execute decisions, work in teams, communicate, and turn information into knowledge and wisdom. Some even struggle to use commputer programs. One solution that was put forth is to add soft skills to the hard skills that education institutions currently teach. Taking teaching outside the classroom will also help students to learn and discover more. This will make their education more real and the lessons longer-lasting.

    There was agreement that the basic operating principles of the private sector can be transformed to the education system, to ensure it meeds the ever-changing needs of the market. Deregulation, competition and profit maximization will ensure educational institutions produce better results and more graduates that are employable. A mixture of public and private funding will help increases and sustain a higher level of innovation.

    In a session on “The Future of North-East Asia,” the discussion centered around how China, Japan and South Korea can collaborate on regional and global issues. The five priorities for North-East Asia outlined were: government-driven cooperation, business-driven cooperation, security, climate change and soft power. It was suggested that the three begin to institutionalize cooperation following the model of the European Union, and encourage student exchanges within the region to help them overcome cultural barriers at a young age. On environmenal challenges, it was suggested that the region focus on identifying suitable and inexpensive technologies that would be good for everyone in the region, not necessarily for everyone in the entire world. Green grids, production with low carbon and certifying timber sustainability would also help reduce the region’s carbon footprint.

    Although Dalian is most known as “the City of Romance” with the expansive Xinghai Square and exotic wildflowers which fuels tourism, it is also considered an important port, industry, and trading city in north China. For those looking to invest, there are a variety of projects many which require joint-venture arrangements. Below is a sampling:

  • Infrastructure investment opportunities such as the Dalian Bay Submarine Tunnel (435 million USD), the new multi-functional Sports Center (1.17 billion USD) and the Dalian Bonded Area New Port Oil Product Storage and Transport Base. Changxing Island is also boasting a variety of projects from a 300,000-ton Ore Dock (292 million USD) to a Trash Processing Project (17.6 million USD).
  • Manufacture industry projects including a High-brightness Gallium Nitride LED Manufacture Project (250 million USD), Hybrid Automobile Parts Project in Huayuankou (150 million USD), Solar Energy Photovoltaic Battery Aluminium Frame and Glass Manufacture Project in Huayuankou (30 million USD), and the Wind Electricity Project in the Wafangdian Western Suburb Industrial Area.
  • Modern Service projects including the Dalian International Cruise Center, Golden Pebble Beach 5-star Hotel (Maodi Hotel) Project (117 million USD) and the Changhai County Guanglu Island Rainbow Beach Tourism Area (73 million USD).

    More information can be found through the Dalian Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau.

    Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA. Part of the Power Living® Empowerment Series.

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