If for no other reason, Canadian business owners need to visit China to start exploring the country's manufacturing opportunities. In some respects 2011 to 2014 may be the last years of the "Made in China" growth boom. Right now, factories are moving from one Chinese province to another in a race to find labour pools. India and other countries are considered to be the next "Made-in" regions but that won't be for another few years.
On May 4, 2011 I had returned from a trip to the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, China. Guangdong Province is, in my opinion, the global capital of manufacturing. This site is a journal of my visits to China as I help Canadian businesses build stronger supply chains, reduce their costs, and become more globally integrated.
The links to the left are not directly related to this website but are a listing of some companies that I have a relationship with (they are not China related).
Very few people in China speak English. So you better learn some Mandarin!
China has a few Western restaurants such as McDonalds and KFC but none of the staff speak English. What you will get is a picture menu from which to point. If you are lucky, you will find some locals who can help. I was fortunate on my first trip to have several meetings with Chinese business men who helped me navigate my way around their culture.
Here are a few tips that I was given:
- Never drink tap water. Drink bottled water only.
- When brushing your teeth, use bottled water.
- Don't eat meat from street side BBQs. I tried it once and it felt like I was eating tendons. A local said it is often what the butchers and grocery stores throw out.
- The people of Guangzhou are very friendly but don't expect them to understand what you say.
- Taxis are very cheap. The metre starts at 7 RMB about ($1.10 CAD) and goes up 1 or 2 RMB every 200m. A ride halfway across the city will cost about 45 RMB.
- Electronics are very expensive in China.
- A good but cheap meal will cost you 12 RMB ($1.90 CAD).
- Guangzhou is more polluted than a smoggy August day in Toronto during a garbage strike
- DO NOT USE YOUR CANADIAN CELL PHONE!!! Bell, Telus, and Rogers will totally rip you off! Instead, make sure your phone is unlocked and buy a SIM card in China. About 300 RMB will get you a card with lots of air, text, and data. I wasted $100 with Bell but could have got the same for $25 in China!
- China is on 220V and the plus is a different shape. Many laptops can handle 110v and 220v but check first.
- China is 14 hours ahead of Calgary. All of China has the same time zone.
- Make sure your business card is in Chinese and English. When you had it out, use both hands.
- Facebook and Twitter are banned in China
- The maximum limit for bringing personal goods back to Canada is $750.
Here are a few things I was happy I brought with me:
- Little bottles of hand sanitizer
- Toothpaste, tooth brushes, Melatonin, gravol, Imodium, Tums, Advil, toilet paper, soap
- Lots of my favourite snacks. Restaurants don't open early so you may want something to eat when you wake up.
- A netbook computer. I found that I walked a lot and carrying my 7 pound laptop would have been a pain.
- Three pairs of socks and underwear for every day you visit. China has no laundromats and drycleaning is less than average (clothes comes back damp). Or, you could buy all you clothes there for about 20% of what it would cost in Canada.