2013 China Business Snapshots

Stores in Shanghai apartment complex

Stores in Shanghai apartment complex

View from our Shanghai guesthouse   window.  When it's really clear, I can counts 15 cranes!

View from our Shanghai guesthouse window. When it’s really clear, I can counts 15 cranes!

China is always amazing us with its contrasts and changes.  Here a few recent items we’ve noticed that you might find interesting too.

Shanghai pedestrian walkway

Shanghai pedestrian walkway

Shanghai apartment rents in a nice area one-and-a-half hours outside Shanghai center:  127 meters (1,367 sq. feet), 2 bedroom, 17,000 Yuan (U.S $2,737) per month.  A 217 meter (2,336 sq. feet), 4 bedrooms, 27,000 Yuan (U.S.  $4,347 ) per month.  Apartments in the same high-rise building sell for 5-10,000,000 Yuan ($800,000-$1,000,000 and more).  Contact Century 21 (152-6864-7692).

Beer garden and expensive Shanghai apartments

Beer garden and expensive Shanghai apartments

Most college graduates, we’ve been told, earn the equivalent of $200-$300 U.S. per month.  We don’t know who can afford these apartments, but obviously many do.

Western men who talk of travel, linguistic challenges, and kids!

Western men who talk of travel, linguistic challenges, and kids!

Chinese business continue to change:  According to the Feb/March 2013 issue of  SBR: Shanghai Business Review-

Now “McDonald’s 1,500 outlets in China are regular chain stores, the complete reverse of its other locations around the globe, of which 75% are franchises…The hamburger chain entered China in 1991 but failed in attempts at franchising” (18).

McDonald's in Shanghai

McDonald’s in Shanghai

However, McDonald’s has begun accepting franchise applications to open the chain stores in Sichuan Province and Chongqing (an emerging Megacity, perhaps the biggest city in the world—in area larger than the Czech Republic, in population – 32 million).  Chongqing is the economic center of the upper Yangtze River.

Chongqing--world's largest megacity!

Chongqing–world’s largest megacity! Photo from http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/bigcities.htm.

Within the next 10 years, Baskin-Robbins, American global ice cream chain, to open 249 more ice cream shops in China (19).

Apple sold 2 million plus iPhone 5 in China in the first three days after it was officially released (20).

A busy Apple store on Shanghai's Nanjing Road

A busy Apple store on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road

US-based Starbucks recently started buying 20 times more of the  local Puer coffee  (the place name of its source in Yunnan Province) than it had previously been ordering.

One of the many Starbucks in Shanghai

One of the many Starbucks in Shanghai

What I’ve wanted to find is a good place to exercise, to do more than climb stairs and walk everywhere.  I’ve been looking for a gym and have wanted to join a yoga or Pilates class while I’m here in Shanghai; however, I can’t bring myself to pay the equivalent of  $15.00 or more a class that seems to be the going rate for yoga.  The Pilates fees are even worse: the only one I’ve found from a Google search costs $300 U.S dollars for five classes!  The website did mention the four stages of awakening  and apply them to skill at Pilates:  unconscious & incompetent; conscious & incompetent; conscious & competent; and unconscious & competent.  Funny!  Perhaps the classes cost so much so the teachers can have lots of time to read and work on their spirituality.  As for me, at least for now, you’ll find me climbing the six floors to our guesthouse room and using my Pilates DVD.

Health practitioners stretching in the Shanghai sun.

Health practitioners stretching in the Shanghai sun.

In my classes too, I am continually surprised.   My students will be studying abroad in the U.S. or UK, so I want them to be aware of cultural differences that are sometimes vast.  In one recent class, I took in letters to “Dear Abby,” a lesson I’ve tried at other schools,  to see if my students would handle the issues differently than she does.

In one letter to Abby, a 15-year-old boy says that his parents yell and scream at him all the time.  A group in my class suggested that the boy find out what he is doing that upsets his parents so much (and then not do those things).  My students, all economic majors, also suggested that financial stresses might be a cause of some of the tension, so the boy should get a part-time job and help contribute to the family.   In her answer, Abby said the boy should tell a counselor or another adult about his parents’ behavior.

The Chinese answer of being self reliant seems really admirable, but the reality is there’s not yet much mental health support in China. Learning to be self reliant is imperative here especially for the boys who have huge pressures to get the best grades, get in the best schools,  graduate from the best universities so they can earn a lot of money so they will be able to buy a house, get married, buy a car, support his parents, her parents, any grandparents, and provide the best for his one child.  According to the career counselor at my Shanghai university, only 20% of the 2013 graduates are likely to get jobs! The competition is fierce and the responsibilities especially for males are daunting. And in the Chinese culture, they aren’t to talk about their problems; it’s shameful for the family if anyone knows there are difficulties. Last week a student—a boy—jumped from the top of the university library and died – a tragedy.

However, learned helplessness and feelings of entitlement can be issues in the U.S.   Perhaps we could learn from each other!

Zài Jiàn and Aloha, Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

2 responses to “2013 China Business Snapshots”

  1. Pat says :

    Thanks, Renee, good reading. I went swimming in the ocean today, first time this year with good sun, with breeze, not wind and flat ocean. Couldn’t see the bottom but it is the most wonderful feelling to swim and breathe hard and again to leave the beach relaxed, cooled and in a beach bliss. Love, Pat

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