Be it Lenovo’s takeover of IBMs PC business, Huwaei’s competing and winning business from Cisco, magnificent and flawless management Beijing Olympics Games, or the space walk, the Chinese has kept the world surprising. With the global financial meltdown with epicenter in US, today the whole world is seeing China with awe and respect. “At the moment China can only save itself and thus be a certain stabilizing factor in Asia,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China.
McKinsey has listed seven ways China might surprise the world in 2009. Each might make us see China and its future in a new light. However, I have selected three of them that every one can appreciate.
China announces that by 2020, half of the cars in the country will be electric. It invests tens of billions of dollars in R&D toward achieving that goal. And thus China becomes the leader in the automotive technology of the future. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) or newcomer BYD Auto have potential to become the Ford Motor of the 21st century, propelled with technology-much as Ford did with the internal-combustion engine at the start of the 20th century.
The Chinese government buys a 50-year lease on an entire geographic region of Mexico, enabling Chinese companies to build factories there to supply the North American market more easily. Chinese companies would then become the undisputed leaders in outsourced production. No longer constrained by geography, they could bring their expertise in low-cost manufacturing to Mexico, greatly expanding their reach and overcoming obstacles-such as maintaining supply chains across the Pacific-that still hinder their growth.
A leading Chinese company tries to buy an iconic US technology firm (or two). A major deal could be worth 10 or 100 times Lenovo’s $1.35 billion purchase of IBM’s PC division. If the US government blocked the sale, the acquisition’s failure could herald an era of renewed corporate nationalism in China. One could expect an aggressive increase in domestic R&D spending as the country focused on homegrown technology. A successful deal, by contrast, could create a truly global company, unlike anything seen before, with a multinational culture superseding any sense of national origins.
All the three surprises or similar ones are possible and if the Chinese leadership picks up the clue from the globally reputed consultancy firm, it can happen sooner than predicted. Let me assure that the Chinese have built their technical, financial and managerial strengths on a foundation that may not be sustainable as per western thinkers, but the Chinese may surprise West even in that. Today many thinkers have started to believe that China can attain whatever it wishes. The news of China’s plan to avert rain during Olympics was a show of its willpower. China could also go ahead successfully against the doubt about pollution level to make Olympics happen. Thomas Friedman’s latest book ‘Hot, Flat, and Wired’ has a chapter ‘Can Red China Become Green China?’ And with all its problems, it is perhaps only China that can reasonably attain a green status.
India does also surprise world in more than one way since Winston Churchill expressed his doubt if the country will last to be recognized by the world. We keep on celebrating our win in cricket; be it over Kenya, Bangladesh, or champion Australia. We celebrate the sole gold medal in 300 plus events in Olympics sports. Unfortunately, in the name of democracy we keep on trying to conceal all our inefficiencies and non-performance. No one doubts about the potential of India. But who will get over its disruptive way of achieving in some areas, and remaining at the bottom in poverty or other parameters of human development. It can’t be but the lack of political leadership that can take it to the summit of global power game.