Where is The Forbidden City? Can’t see a thing! Pollution nightmare and what to expect

January 26th, 2015

On 15 January, after leaving the Great Hall of the People I crossed Tiananmen Square. Pollution was horrendous, one of the worst days in months: well over AQI 500. See the pictures.

Beijing has a big big challenge really to clean that up.
As I explained to the European Chamber, the Beijing Government is under severe pressure to solve the pollution problems. Targets to reduce PM2.5 have not been met and the Central Government is starting to pressure Beijing: solve it, otherwise you will get in BIG trouble (won’t say here what they actually meant by that…)
Both SCMP and China Daily reported on the issue. In short, the only way to solve the problem:

-       reduce the population now estimated (officially) at 21.52 million (my estimate is much higher);
-       make Beijing an expensive city to live in: expensive subway, expensive housing, no relaxation of home ownership;
-       reduce polluting traffic;
-       remove as much industry that requires a lot of manpower and is polluting;
-       close down 36 large markets including wholesale markets for clothing (near Beijing Zoo);
-       increase green and agricultural belts around the city;
-       in short make the city unwelcoming for migrants, industry and “others”.

For a taste, read this:
24 January 2015 – Beijing to limit population growth this year
There is more about that on China Daily.

FDI it was, ODI it is!

January 26th, 2015

On 15 January I took part in “The 2nd China Overseas Investment New Year Forum” (“Silk Road Five Promotions”) in The Great Hall of The People where I gave a short presentation.

The audience of over 800 was basically Chinese with few foreigners, most of them being speakers.
In the morning session there were also speeches by the French and Pakistani ambassadors (pictured, Maurice Gourdault Montagne & Masood Khalid).
In my speech (see here the PDF: 150115 ODIb), I gave some insights on the shift from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI – the money coming in) towards Overseas Direct Investment (ODI – the money going out).
As time was short, I was given 15-20 minutes, then cut back to 13 minutes, I concentrated on showing a suspicious trend in ODI along with some very basic guidelines on how Chinese entities could be more successful in investing and carrying out projects in overseas countries.
In the session I talked, I just came after the ambassador of Poland, H.E. Tadeusz Chomicki, and before the speakers of South Korea and the USA. (all pictured)
For once the food served during lunch was pretty good – usually the food there is very much soso.

Who stole the show at AMCHAM & EUCCC event?

January 26th, 2015

On 14 January the European Chamber and American Chamber organized a New Year Celebration at the Kempinski.
A pretty large audience who was there to listen to Joerg Wuttke, Jim Zimmerman and a panel hosted by Andy Brown (Wall Street Journal). I felt standing around to listen to the panel discussion was not ideal, people pay less attention. Nothing earth-shaking to report from that panel anyway.

Personally I was more than happy to meet in person our “idol” Big Daddy Dough – aka as Andrew Dougherty who performed on stage the video clip “Beijing State of Mind”. I wrote about the clip earlier:
The best promotion video of Beijing: http://www.beijing1980.com/?p=169
I actually use the clip in most of my seminars until the students are ready for my presentation: it surely draws the attention and some asked me for the clip…
So, you know who stole the show!

Author Solutions: new and shittier ways to screw writers

November 25th, 2014

Yep, and now also available in Spanish!
Read the full story:


Seems AS finds the US market saturated, so it moves to conquer “foreign” writers. Sad that Penguin is enjoying the scams. Says a lot about traditional publishing.
I am one of the victims. In earlier posts I already listed some of the complaints:

  1. Inflated costs for “marketing” that delivers nothing
  2. Promising to set up social media – zero value as you can do it all yourself (Facebook, e-mail, etc.)
  3. I was promised to be paid my royalties by electronic bank transfer but they only can send a stupid check in BP from the USA by snail mail to Beijing, so I can get at most 40% of the check’s value (they never heard about modern banking nor PayPal).
  4. I am more than suspicious my worldwide sales are under-reported

Recently I also discovered why my book promotion through their book stubs went nowhere: 90% of the codes were wrong, so people who got the “gift” were not impressed. No wonder I never received reaction.
Also, the way they set up Amazon sales was a blunder. You need to be a detective to figure out, yes, my book also exists as e-book. Print and e-book are not linked. And nothing I can do about that myself.
So, when they even now come back to me, trying to sell some more worthless marketing packages of all kinds: I tell them I don’t need them, they are 5 times too expensive and why should I promote sales if I do not get royalties anyway?

I now started writing other books and for sure I will never go back to any of the dozens of companies all under the same management: Author Solutions.

Anniversary event of InterChina in Beijing

November 16th, 2014

On 23 November in the Capital Club Beijing I attended the seminar of InterChina about their  China 2015 Annual Business Forecast, also for the 20th anniversary of the company.
Opening address and Forecast presentation were done by our Belgian friend Jan Borgonjon, President, InterChina, along with Eduardo Morcillo, Managing Partner.
Participated to the Panel Discussion:

  • Mark Duval, President, AmCham BeijingZ
  • Su Bahong, Director Corporate Affairs & JV Relations, Volkswagen Group China
  • Bernie Stefan, Vice President Strategy & Business Development, Greater China, Nestle

Jan Borgonjon is one of the Founding Partners and President of InterChina since 1994. He has been the Director of the China Europe Management Institute (CEMI, Beijing), and later became one of the founders of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, of which he is now a board member. From 2002 to 2006, he was a member of the executive committee of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. InterChina has offices in Beijing and Shanghai and a staff of over 55.
Jan can be called one of the pillars of the Belgian business community in Beijing
As for the seminar, a very well done analysis. I might not fully agree with all details but overall the research was carefully done and talking with relevant insiders.
I might have a less positive view on the attitude of the Chinese government towards foreign companies and foreigners in general. It is true MNC have to look ahead and the “golden times” are over: Chinese companies have progressed a lot. However the anti-foreign sentiment is too obvious to be ignored.
It was mentioned that Chinese companies going abroad have still a lot to learn and many Chinese companies are less flexible to switch strategies when markets and the environment change – as it the case today. Interestingly some commented that foreigner buyers get more hesitant about Chinese quality, even if products come from foreign-invested companies. I can’t but agree on all that.
It was also said that looking at companies that succeed or not, it is all very dependent on a case by case basis. In the same sector one can see companies going down while others do very well. And true that many head offices have no clue about China, I can confirm that. Now the same applies for Chinese going abroad. They are facing what we face for three decades.