Day 6, Hangzhou! A day FULL of work, from morning till midnight – and I love it
First day for Olivia, the very potential newcomer, she got really well in and straight into the action of the hottest entrepreneurial city in the world at this moment. We had also a bunch of stuff coming today.
We created a plan for the day, the week and for the next two months until the end of February.
The week holding full-speed acceleration of Hangzhou cases, but also day-visits to Shanghai (Wed) and Beijing (Thu). Kevin Feng, our third Mingle Superstar is joining us on Wednesday – very excited. It’s Finnish invasion in Hangzhou. More resources and more young bright brains, vision, dreams and hands to develop the current existing cases, especially with Hangzhou’s dear sister city, Oulu (which if anyone hasn’t been there, go there, it’s probably one of the most exciting cities in the world at this moment). Oulu has super great ICT, education, health boom, entrepreneurship, smart city… Oulu does world-class breakthroughs continuously, and especially right now, and seems that almost nobody talks about it, at least the people in Oulu – as they seem to be super humble “let the work speak for you rather than words”. I like it. It’s a unique combination of world-class tech and innovation, but also very largely humane values with super high value on ethics and social responsibility. And a growing interest for China and Silk Road. Frank, we got a mission to do. If Oulu succeeds in Hangzhou, everybody wins – not just the people in Hangzhou and Oulu, but everyone in Finland – and many in China too. Sino-Finnish relations need success stories and successful CITY co-operation more than ever. Helsinki is doing very well in Beijing and Shenzhen, Espoo is doing something really special with Shanghai, have a look on it, Tampere is very active with Guangzhou, Turku has found Jinan and so on. People don’t realise in Finland what an opportunity is lying beneath the city co-op. Chinese “same level” tradition puts an over 8 million Hangzhou and 200k Oulu in to the same line. 20 million Guangzhou hosts a couple hundred thousand Tampere there with Red Carpets. So does Shanghai pick Espoo as one of their most important international partners.
If we think the international cooperation, business and diplomacy between Finland and China should be done only on the government level, we are going badly wrong and won’t utilise all the layers of government opportunity in China. According to us, government is one of the three key layers of Chinese society, with civilisation and innovation – and it works in multiple layers, not only in the state-level.
European Westphalian system since 1648 has grown us to think, what state-to-state relations are. However almost during that very same year (1644) China started its latest dynastic venture, the Qing dynasty, which ruled over the Eastern Asia in a completely different fashion. Two things to point: it was NOT ruled with the Westphalian way (and never was) – that’s why the richest man of the world, emperor Qianlong, in 1793 turnt away the British Ambassador McCartney and refused to open up a “Westphalian” diplomatic trade-relations. Back home he was cursing China. Over four decades later the Opium War started that put the last Chinese dynasty to their knees.
China wanted to co-operate with the West – but we just didn’t know HOW they wanted to cooperate. We wanted to enforce and push our way of doing this over the Chinese. Due to the sudden peak of industrialisation we were able to do it for over a century. But we can’t do it anymore. Even if the great old colonial powers still intuitively think as if they somehow still should be able to do it. Those who do, will never succeed in China, and never win over the hearts and minds of the Chinese – or get a new long-term business partner easily.
Centuries have passed and China is becoming back to its civilisational course of conduct. It’s focusing on 附属国 and “gift” culture, that it’s expecting from its neighbours – and indeed more and more anywhere in the world. This is what the Chinese liberal world order is based on – with modern new Chinese characteristics. That’s why Xi Jinping visits Davos conferences and talks about “free trade” to the global leaders.
Chinese government is also strongly based on the principle of matching the statuses. As the population is (imagine Trump saying…) huuuuuuuge, Chinese need to work differently in order to get things effectively forward. In a place like Finland, with little population, it’s not a good idea to start putting all kind of barriers and limits between people and their grades. The best possible way is to flexibly connect the organisations – even a secretary, or project assistant can talk with a big leader, if necessary. Officially in China it’s out of the question. Number one can talk to number two in hierarchy – yes it works. And number two can approach number one – but number seven can never do it. It’s impossible.
And there’s a reason to that.
Imagine if China with all of its 1,4 billion population would start very freely talking with each other over the boarders without any sense of hierarchy? What would happen of it? A total chaos and a collapse of the society. You can see it also in the families. It’s the Grandfather who often has the most impactful say on others, even more than in Europe.
You need to understand, that the way how China is governed is just the way how it is. You can change some preferences and political leaders may change – but a 3-5 thousand years old culture cannot change in a year, a decade, nor a century. Some people, such as Mao, have had some illusions, of trying to do it – but his followers realised that even the Great Leader may have been wrong. (Still you gotta give a genuine credit to Mao of helping to establish a new China and build up the basis for today’s prosperity. Mao was a startup entrepreneur, the first CEO of China Inc. and as many startup CEO’s he maybe some horrendous mistakes. But tell any single one who hasn’t? Luckily the Board of Advisors adapted to the current situations of the world that time – and named a suitable new CEO.
Read Ben Horowitz’s Hard Thing about Hard Things on PEACETIME/WARTIME CEOs and you everything you need to know about the difference between Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping’s rhetorics. Countries, such as companies, should change along the decades and match the current shape of the “market”.
These things living and doing things in China make you think.
Feels liberating to flash out some ink on the paper after a long and exciting day and an absorbing of yet more of China and Sino-Finnish encounters. We got by the way a new local person (potentially) recruited for us for the Spring (and perhaps for long term). Super fantastic background and good potential. I mean, how can you get a rising star from local Hangzhou, who speaks super brilliant Chinese and English, has worked as concierge for governmental leaders, a press secretary at G20 Official Press Conference, one the best scores at university and feeling super excited about our Sino-Finnish project, like it’s “the best that could happen to her” – and asking for 520 euros as for her monthly salary? Jesus, that’s less than a DAILY payment, my dear.
Imagine, if we with our Finnish understanding and methods of education could spark and inspire an innovation and “reproduce” ourselves not only in the manufacturing, but also in innovation industry – gee what we could do here with all the resources and ideas we have? Welcome to China. The new generation of Chinese is just simply amazing in their innovation thinking. I can see a huge difference between a 60-year old Chinese and a 60-year old Finn. But it’s much more difficult to see it between a 20-year old Chinese and a Finn. The more people realise how the world has changed, the better for us. Misunderstanding leads to misinterpretation – and to bad strategic choices, in business and in people’s lives.
I feel even if I’d stay here for the rest of my life and would encounter these occasions and actions for the next 10 000 days or something – I’d still be very far from actually understanding what China or its people are genuinely about. But every step that I take closer to it – gives a proportional advantage over those who are not taking any steps. And if you understand 3% of China, rather than 2% of China, can make all the difference in the world and diverts attraction and interest to you.
That same goes though with any industry, hobby or point of interest, that would like to take out to the market. Because choosing the best ones doesn’t mean that you choose the ones that know everything about everything. You choose the ones that can best help you – and give you the value you need, better than others, all the variables counted. That’s what many things are about here, as everywhere.
Know that you don’t know, is probably the biggest ever wisdom anyone can learn in or about China. That brings you the humbleness, to move forward and ask the right questions and get closer one step to your goals – which compared to others might be your unique advantage.
We also worked on with an interesting review on some of the top-class vocational high schools of China. Chinese parents nowadays usually aim to put all their children into the respected “Innovation” side, a theory-based High School. Your goal is to manage and succeed in a 中考 test at the Middle School – and then be the best in your class, or area – and get to the top high schools of China – like No. 14 high school in Hangzhou. (Which is btw brilliant, I taught a class there on Autumn and was shocked by the level of the new bright young Chinese students and its visionary, hearty leaders.) The parents invest, if they only can, as much money as needed in order to secure their child’s spot at the boat first class. It determines much of their career, future – and the ability to support you financially when you’re getting old. (Forget the Finnish social welfare with 1,4Bn people.) If you fail to foster your children to the next level – you probably suffer. The same goes to getting babies and married. Parents are there for you! In good and bad. Just like Chinese government to its people. Whereas Finland is like a mother to its citizens, China plays more of the role of the father. To mother’s eyes slapping your baby to the arse is really harsh and rude – but father may think it’s good to prevent more worries: my beloved child learns how to manage in the society and is corrected from bad behaviour. Both aim to be highly responsible – and they are. But in a different way. Europe used to be “father” too, but it has changed in the last half a century. And it’s probably pretty much due to the fact that ladies and more and more in the deciding tables. In China there’s more than in Korea or Japan, but also most of the women here still need to partly “play” the part of a tough guy.
But Finland and much of Northern Europe has changed already. Anybody can review whether the change is into positive or what.
That’s about it, writing’s over, after a long day, I still felt the need to write down on thoughts,
I thought this would get less and less text, but I was apparently wrong, for so far….
Oh la vache,
getting back to you soon,