I visited China last month. Every time I go there I learn something new; here’s some of what I saw and learned:

On the 13-hour flight to Shanghai, which was filled mostly with native Chinese persons, I felt like I was in the Apple zone. IPads and iPhones were everywhere. China now accounts for 20% of Apple’s sales, up from 2% in 2009. This trend continued during my trip as a number of my Chinese partners had iPhones.

There aren’t many overweight persons in China. Much of their diet consists of sea food and vegetables, with a little pork and beef thrown in (inkfish anyone?). Rarely do they serve sugary sweets. That which we call “Chinese food” in the U.S. is mostly deep fried, MSG loaded, fast food. I couldn’t help but compare it to the U.S. where 2/3 of the population are overweight.

While visiting a restaurant in Shenzhen, I walked across an alley to look at a snake that was coiled up in a cage. As I approached the cage the snake lifted its head – and flared its hood.

A cobra. Not my first choice for lunch.

Facebook is blocked in China by their government. When I get on the Internet there it takes time to adjust to the fact they don’t have the same freedoms we take for granted. I couldn’t help but wonder if a government tech agent somewhere was watching which websites I tried to access. Maybe I was just being paranoid.

The factories have come a long way since my first visit in 1986. Several machine shops I visited wouldn’t look much different than one you’d see in the U.S. In fact, the whole country has been “upgraded.” Skyscrapers and modern day buildings abound. When I first came to China it seemed everyone was riding a bicycle. Factory owners had to hire a “driver” to take them around.

Now everyone can drive; all of the owners of my partner companies have nice, late model cars. There are fewer bicycles and a lot of electric scooters.

On a flight from Shenzhen to Qingdao, I had an interesting exchange with the president of one of my partner companies. Here are a few snippets:

I asked him what he thought of Mao Zedong, China’s leader who set off the Cultural Revolution in the 60’s and 70’s where millions died. He told me he thought he was a “great and powerful man.”

We exchanged information on our country’s social security taxes. They have 4% taken out of their checks. Our government likes to take more.

He was surprised when I told him that the U.S. government spends 4.5 trillion a year but takes in 3 trillion. I wondered if he thought we forgot how to do basic math.

When I brought up how China had grown like a rocket, he said that “Chinese people have money but no life.” I thought this was a rather interesting if not open comment about the state of his countrymen that could apply anywhere. This bridged into a conversation about God, the Bible, and prayer.

Several other things that came up during the trip:

Although my Chinese hosts reminded me that Chinese people hate cheese, one of them tried a pizza. This would be like one of us sampling one of their more exotic dishes (monkey soup, anyone?) 

Getting their picture taken is something of an honor for them. I brought my 17 year old son with me so he could experience the business world and the Chinese culture. As we were walking the streets of Shanghai, a Chinese man walked up to us, pointed at my camera, and then to my 6’ 3” son, wanting me to take a picture of them. That’s something you wouldn’t do in the U.S… unless it was with someone famous.

Website Overhaul  
A professional web developer has been in the process of redesigning the Global Trade website from the ground up for the past several months. It should be done by the time the July newsletter comes out. I’ll update you next month so you can have a look, assuming the new version is up.

The Exchange Rate
The Yuan has actually lost a little ground against the dollar in the last month, probably because everyone’s been buying dollars due to the uncertainty in Europe.
Yuan to the dollar, as of today: 6.36 to 1
Rate when the Yuan was depegged from the dollar onJune 19, 2010:  6.82 to 1
Change: .46 (6.7%)

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.
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Previous Newsletters:
March: The New China Blog
February: It’s All About the Relationship
January: The Year of the Dragon
December: Going Door to Door
November: How to Increase and Spark Creativity – Now!
October: Another Trade War Bill