First Impressions of an Italian in China

CPG will be posting a series as part of our Summer Internship program featuring the views and first impressions of China of our foreign interns. This first post is from Marco Rossini.

In order to define a country I think one should take into account several features and aspects. These can include its institutions, its constitutional settings (if available), its way of processing the winds of change, its geography, and its resources. But, in my opinion, the most relevant features to look at are the people who live in a place. As a -still- young economics student I prefer to focus on this latter peculiarity when I travel abroad, trying to get involved as much as I can, to properly experience it. I will wait until I am 40yrs old to evaluate a place according to its GDP per capita or any other welfare index. In addition, I do think China must be “sensed” rather than simply analyzed. Our rules do not make sense here. Western units of measure are as useful as the metric system is to quantify the love of a mother. So, I cleared my mind and pressed CTRL + ALT + CANC. No preconceptions nor prejudices are worth anything when setting a solid base for becoming acquainted with a place. I did however use my academic studies as a reference point. My Master Of Science is very innovation centric with a focus on new emerging markets. This seemed like a good starting point.

I arrived on Thursday and Friday night I was still a “bit” jet lagged. After being unable to walk, I decided to take a nighttime “stroll”. Those 4 hours were amazing. On Saturday night, I was still unable to sleep from all the excitement, which led to another titanic walk around Beijing. Daytime. I am a strong believer in that a country must be sensed on foot. The way the Chinese population lives and behaves can only be properly perceived in this way. I focused on people rather than buildings. I observed every single aspect of the street such as traffic, manners, and families. China is strange, I must admit, but amazingly particular I would say as well. To explain through an analogy would go something like this:

Italy : China = Beautiful old porcelain doll in showcase : Glorious massive working beehive

I purposefully passed through narrow alleys. Dirty, stinky alleys. Micro alleys. Backyard alleys. These were awful. I saw the back-ends of the shining, huge paths. I had my first impressions. I took pictures.

I would definitely invest in China. Although just one kid per couple is allowed I saw real efforts forwards. Chinese people are rawer than people I see in my country. More genuine. I saw several tobacconist families. Very early in the morning they were arranged as Mom at the “front office” and Dad setting off on the physical work to prepare the incoming goods. The kid was somewhere hanging on. This isn’t just for tobacconists. The same story was unfolding for (tons and tons of) restaurants, which all seem to be family owned. China has this pervasive dream: put in enormous efforts (even at these very low levels) towards a final goal (in this case: family). I cannot see this kind of commitment in Italy (though I come from the worst country to make such comparisons!!!). However, I am used to traveling, and have seen almost all of Europe, and yet nothing impressed me in this way. The Chinese dream is outperforming the American one even in the practice. So, if I had to evaluate a country according to its people I would surely give China a triple AAA (in Moody’s standards). Up to this point, what has me convinced is motivation. Motivation is what makes a country glorious.

My analysis and investigations will be processed further in my spare time. Next I feel I must take into account the institutional part which relates to the former aspect discussed. In which way is the Party involved in social life? What percentage of efforts are driven and what is spontaneous? Will it be sustainable? How long? What about the wage increases and the subsequent increase of welfare? Will it affect the efficiency of this system? Will the Party be able to prevent a situation of sluggish growth? Will the current political system be sustainable even at a richer level of life? We’ll see.

– Marco Tommaso Rossini, CPG Marketing Intern

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