Wow! Just wow! After two full days in Beijing China that is the impression I’m left with. The mixture of history, culture and booming progress is almost too much to grasp. I don’t know that I had any expectations of what I would find here, but I do know that any cultural and economic stereotypes I had before I got here have vaporized.
It is not my intention to write a play by play narrative about this experience. Frankly there is plenty of stuff written on the internet about various tourist destinations throughout China so there is no point in me trying to add to that already cluttered space. Besides my writing skills would not do it justice. So I will focus on my impressions, what I’m learning from my adventure and my reactions to this experience.
You don’t have to be an economics scholar to appreciate what an economic power house China is both as a producer and as a consumer. My observations on the ride from the airport to the hotel pretty much confirmed that. Just one qualifier here. Beijing has experienced a huge construction and modernization boom that began with the preparations for the summer Olympics and really has not stopped. So I’m not sure that my first impressions will hold true for the rest of China. But time will tell.
Depending on who you speaking the population of the city of Beijing is about 30 million give or take. The exact number is difficult to pin down because of how they do the population count here. For example, unmarried women who move the this city are not counted in it’s population until they find a husband. It is estimated that there may be millions of these women alone who have been living in the city for years. But the important issue here is that this one city’s population may match that of Canada which, from an economic standpoint is mind blowing for me.
So getting back back to the ride from the airport. What you see is large multi-lane superhighways that are filled with high end luxury automobiles. Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Lexus, Buick, Bentley and even Tesla vehicles dominate the roadways. I have never witnessed anything like it anywhere else including New York City. But what makes this even more astounding is that these vehicles cost three times more to purchase here than in North America yet they still fill the roads. Consumers my have to wait up to ten years to even purchase car because of supply realities. Thankfully for us rednecks who love our pickup trucks, owning one is not a trend here….yet.
My second observation during my ride from the airport is the amazing buildings that are common place throughout the city. So much of the modern architecture defies what I believed was possible. Like most amazing architecture, the true impact does happen until you are standing in front of it. In other words two dimensional photos you find on the internet don’t do them justice. Futuristic, innovative modern design is common place.
So my first impressions of China have pretty much dispelled any notion or myth that this country that is stuck in time and stereotypes. To the contrary in terms of progress on many fronts, this country is clearly a world pacesetter/leader that rest of us need to be aware of and engaged with to ensure our own economic prosperity.