Summer Davos in Dalian, China

15 Sep 2007|Darrel Rhea

I have recently returned from China attending the World Economic Forum Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions (Summer Davos). Dalian is just one of many cities in China with 6 MILLION people that few Westerners have heard of. It is incredibly modern, clean, organized, up-scale. People compare it to San Francisco and Seattle. The scale is enormous, it goes on and on for miles in all directions. Most everything looks like it has been built within 15 years, most of it within 5 years.

As one of many presentations by world leaders at the conference the Premier of China, Wen Jiaboa, spoke. The most repeated words in his long talk were 1) harmonious, 2) innovation, 3) reform, and 4) balance. The pragmatism of the Chinese leadership is very clear, and they are very clear about their goals. They are supporting hyper growth of the economy (close to 10%) while trying to prevent over-heating of the market, dealing with social inequities, being accountable for the environment, preventing inflation, opening up to the world, promoting political reform, etc. Balance is the key word…

They are progressive and reasonable, but the scale of the needed change is so great and the risks of failure are so high that they are cautious and deliberate. Government centralization allows them to move very quickly. Example: Right now, it is against the law to use a computer for VOIP. At some point, the government is going to figure that issue out and actively support its implementation on a huge scale. No waiting for congress and stakeholders to debate and posture. Once it decides to, China will leap ahead and implement.

This was reinforced by dozens of conversations with executives that have been dealing with the government for years. The consensus was that the leadership wants to reform and be progressive; they are just doing what they need to do to try to control the evolution safely. They are taking the long view and it has become clearer to me than ever, that we need to keenly follow what China is seeing… and doing.

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