From “Outlaws of the Marsh” to Chen Guangcheng: What Hasn’t Changed in China

Recently, I have been watching the Chinese TV series “All Men Are Brothers,” a 2011 TV production based on the classic Chinese literature Outlaws of the Marsh (Water Margin is another translation). This historic fiction is set in the 11th century in China during the Song Dynasty. A group of good men and women were being forced into a life as outlaws by injustice in society.

Some of them were persecuted by evil officials. Others were victims of local thugs and rebelled. Yet there were others who took justice into their own hands and broke the law. Eventually, 108 of them (including three women) gathered at Liang Mountain to form an outlaw society. Known as heroes of Liang Mountain, they robbed the rich and helped the poor, and vowed to “do justice on Heaven’s behalf.”

Revisiting this epic novel in a TV series, I was struck by how relevant the stories are to today’s China. Despite the dramatic changes in recent years, much of China hasn’t changed at all. Every single story in “All Men Are Brothers” seems to be repeating itself in contemporary China – common people who are powerless and subject to abuse by villains, petty-minded officials who have gained high powers, upright people who find themselves running afoul of the authorities. Continue reading

China to Become the World’s Largest Importer by 2014

According to The Economist, China will surpass the United States to become the largest importer in the world by 2014. There are plenty of opportunities for companies to take advantage of China’s growing middle class. Here are a few useful tips if you are interested in exporting to China:

  • Check out your local Chamber of Commerce or Export Assistance Center and familiarize yourselves with legal and regulatory issues in China. These facilities also have a lot of resources and services that can help you develop China market entry strategies and find the right business partners.
  • Consider rebranding or repositioning your products in China. Remember, what works in your native country may not work in China. You really need to learn about Chinese culture, understand Chinese consumers, and adapt your products and services to the China market.
  • For smaller brands, e-commerce is a great way to break into the China market without significant upfront cost. China’s ecommerce has been growing at 60 percent each year in recent years. More than 100 million Chinese shopped online last year. And China’s Internet users are expected to reach 750 million in 2015.
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