This past week I was fortunate to join other Kiwi entrepreneurs and business peeps on a state-level delegation to Beijing and Shenzhen, China.
We visited innovation and tech hubs, medical and nuclear plants, attended a BioTech summit and had one too many 12-course meals.
Our first stop was a dinner in Beijing with Madame Qiu, Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs (centre). Miss Qiu was a very cool, accommodating lady who took an interest in all of our respective businesses and projects. Note – regarding formalities below – I thought it was a huggy pic. Wasn’t.
But I’d already seen Beijing once before, and even though there was the novelty of blue sky, it was Southern China’s tech-powerhouse I really wanted to discover.
30 years ago Shenzhen, a 40-minute drive from Hong Kong, had a population of 30,000. Today it’s home to Tencent and Huawei, among other tech giants, and has a population of 19.2 million, all of whom reside in a very liveable city with a lush climate. There are also some pretty big incentives set by the local government to encourage foreign start-ups to set up shop.
If I was 20 and starting out in innovation and tech I’d be there.
Just when you think an idea is too stupid for words or is best left at the bottom of the wine bottle at 4 am, you discover China’s already selling it. Below is the equivalent of Fitbit for chickens. It’s simple – tag the chicken and the device records the steps, meaning you charge more for a dead, but formally fit, chicken.
Those 12-course meals I talked about earlier included the usual Chinese fare, with the added bonus of duck feet, sea cucumber, and a water creature found only in China, the duck-billed golden-line fish.
Some dishes, however, awaken your typically dormant vegetarian tendencies.
China leaves a mark, it fires you up. It rips you out of your comfort zone. It confronts and challenges you. It inspires and invigorates. It’s also exhausting. So after a week of travelling madness, I stumbled home after an overnight flight happy to hear a little voice say, ‘Dad, I got new pyjama pants with rockets on them!’
Thanks a ton to NZCYF for a top trip. Xiexie!