Did you say 1.3 Billion? China is Here. Now

Posted on September 23, 2008 by Tony Uphoff

I had an amazing trip to China recently, visiting Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. Our parent company UBM now has over 100 employees in China and we have several of our TechWeb brands in the region, including InformationWeek China and are actively looking to expand our business in this fast growing country. Major thanks here to Margaret Wa our new TechWeb China country manager and also Dan Ye our UBM China development director. Both took incredible care of us, set up fantastic meetings and also allowed us to get an insiders perspective on this amazing country.

For those that haven't yet been let me suggest that you book a trip. It is mind blowing. The first thing that hits you is the sheer size and scale of the major cities. The level of expansion is also incredible. China is building the equivalent of a new New York City every year.

The mix of the old and new is striking. Innovative, state of the art buildings within view of the forbidden city in Beijing. Modern bridges, freeways and magnetic bullet trains, next to people riding in bicycle taxis in Shanghai. Given the population numbers, as you would imagine the major cities are very crowded. Beijing and Shanghai are massive towns with nearly 30 million people in total between them. Getting around in these major cities by taxi is exciting to say the least but more orderly than you would imagine...even if you do have your eyes closed from time to time!

The Chinese people are very proud of their country and excited about the increased openness and visibility on the global stage. The still visible signs of the recent Olympic Games were everywhere . This is obviously a country that has a very different system of government than the United States but I was taken aback by how many Chinese people were eager that I understand "Chinese communism is very different than Russian communism". The business climate is one of growth, increasingly open and one rich with opportunity. Given the government involvement there is significant complexity to doing business in China however. Ownership can be a tricky definition and media is a particularly complex business given the way media businesses are structured and monitored in China. As evidenced by the recent news of the milk scare China is also still wrestling with governmental oversight and disclosure issues.

Our customers in China are focused on the same opportunities and challenges as IT marketers everywhere; building demand, reaching all of the key decision makers, driving brand awareness and selling solutions. Print media is still flourishing in China and online is growing rapidly. Integrated marketing is just starting to take off in earnest and live media, particularly high level events, are very popular.

We met several small, fast growing media companies that I found fascinating. Won't name names here as some of them will likely end up as new businesses for us in the region. Suffice to say however that media start up activity in China is thriving. All in all an incredible trip. I look forward to my next visit and thanks again to our team in China as well as the new friends we made on our travels.

Brief side note here. It was an interesting experience to wake up my first morning in China, flip on the tv and watch wall street melt down. While I didn't understand the language the red lines on the charts were a universal language. One more...I'm not in the habit of giving advice on travel services on this blog but if you have the opportunity to fly China Eastern Airlines, pass. Imagine an airline run by the government. Heck after 10 hours I was a bit loopy anyway. At least they got me home.,

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