By Mike Genung

It was 1988, and I was in a train station in China, waiting to depart. A Taiwanese man who had accompanied me from the U.S was there, as were two mainlanders who were from one of the trading companies we worked with.

While walking through the station, a man approached me… with a knife. He looked me in the eye, and started waving the knife in my face and making weird noises. One of his wrists were bandaged and was stained with what looked like blood.

I was stunned, and froze. “What do I do?” I asked my friends. They were just as shocked as I was and were staring at our new opponent. “I don’t know” said one. In the States I probably would have started swinging, or ran, or done something, but here in China where I didn’t know the language or have a complete comprehension of the dark side of their culture, I didn’t know what to do. Neither did my Chinese friends… or local law enforcement. A policeman (who was unarmed) walked by, looked at our friend, and kept going.

The next few seconds felt like hours, and then my Taiwanese friend (whose name was Louie) stepped between me and the guy with the knife in an act of bravery. “Louie, get out of the way,” I said, “Before this guy turns you into a pin cushion.”

Then, to our surprise, the guy with the knife just walked away. A few moments later, we saw two policemen walk by, one who was holding the knife. He had confiscated it from our “friend”… I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t take him in.

We got to Beijing, where we would fly home to Los Angeles. We called the airlines to confirm our tickets, and then discovered we’d been bumped from our flight. In those days a foreigner in China was given less preference when a flight was overbooked. Unfortunately, the next flight out to LA wasn’t for another week, and Louie and I both needed to get home.

We found a way – by flying West instead of East. This meant traversing the globe in the opposite direction, and involved stops in Saudi Arabia and Germany – 24 hours on multiple planes with layovers in between. It was our only choice and we took it. More than a day later and feeling worn out, we made it.  

You never know what you might encounter in the Middle Kingdom.  

China in the News

China is now the world’s largest trading partner.
In 2006, the U.S. traded with 127 countries, while China was a trading partner with 70. Today, China is a trading partner of 124 countries, while the U.S. is with 76. While we’re bickering about fiscal cliffs and social engineering, they’ve focused on becoming the world’s manufacturer.
Sigh. If we’d only get back to basics…

There are new rumblings of a possible increase in the width of the trading band of the Yuan. At present, the Chinese Yuan fluctuates no more than 1% either way in value against the U.S. dollar. One recent forecast predicted that China will soon increase that band to 1.5 or 2%. This would be another baby step towards floating the currency on the international market – and making a challenge towards the international reserve status of the dollar.

The China Blog

I have a blog where I post updates and other information on doing business with China on a weekly basis. Recently I posted a picture of a cobra I encountered during a visit this year to China. If you want to sign up to receive notifications of blog posts, go to the Blog Home Page and sign up at the signup box at the top right of the page.

The Exchange Rate

The dollar has been depreciating recently against the yuan at an accelerated rate. If the decline continues it will soon start to have an effect on prices, although we’re only talking about a percentage point or two at present.

Yuan to the dollar, as of today: 6.23 to 1
Rate when the Yuan was depegged from the dollar on June 19, 2010:  6.82 to 1
Change: .59 (8.6%) 

About Us

Since 1991, Global Trade Specialists, Inc. has helped companies of all sizes get their products made in China from manufacturers of quality products. We are an American company who works with three trading groups in China with immediate access to thousands of manufacturing companies. We source most products made from metal, plastic, wood, stone, glass or textiles; from prototype to production. Many of our customers are first time importers; we walk you through the entire process.

More on what we do.
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Newsletter archives

Previous Newsletters:
November: 4 Principals for Success
October: China in the News
September: Remembering Nixon’s Visit to China
August: Who’s the Bad Guy Here?
July: We’re not in Kansas Anymore
June: Impressions from a Visit to China
May: The U.S. Gets What it Wants, But…

All material copyright 2012 Global Trade Specialists, Inc.
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