On “discovering” Shenzhen and the 459 car brands in China
Editor’s note: Below are select excerpts from a panel discussion between Tricia Wang, David Li and Philipp Grefer held at NEXT Conference 2017:
Philipp Grefer: 88Rising is a YouTube channel looking for good Asian culture – better than K-Pop. They have found several people who have had some success. We have a Chinese rapper starting to be noticed in the US. The government is interested as well. They are actively supporting bands. One of our bands will be playing in Ann Arbor with support from the Confucius Institute.
Tricia Wang: I think we still have some time to go before we see Chinese cultural influence. But technology is a different matter. That’s where I see the most traction.
David Li: We’re seeing Huawai growing in the European market, obviously, but the other side is how tight the technological co-operation already. A lot of people come to conferences like this, and are surprised by the discovery of Shenzhen. Tim Cook started dealing with Shenzhen 25 years ago. It was people like that that helped build Shenzhen into an international power. Don’t believe what you read on the internet. It’s all males with Silicon Valley idealism, failing because it’s a different culture.
Next time you fly to Shenzhen, look in business class, and find someone your Dad’s age, and ask them how to work with Shenzhen. Go in with respect. Don’t think you’re the first from your country.
Tricia Wang: China is just more transparent about spying than other countries: look at the Snowden revelations about the US. You don’t have to be in China to be oppressed. The coded language of the oppressed finds its way into the arts, and then into culture. That’s the same all over the world. I’m a big proponent for protecting spaces for anonymity, like Snapchat.
David Li: There are 459 car brands in China. They all have licences to put cars on the street. Remember how furious the European car industry competition used to be. A Shenzhen for cars is developing: Chongqing (amongst other places). Chinese companies are pragmatic – they’ll target your weakest markets first, and grow for there.
There are electric cars coming onto the market for €1000. Are they street legal? No-one cares. They’s in the second and third tier cities, where they’re replacing bikes.
Talking of bikes, the bike sharing schemes are starting to trigger urban planners to rethink how they design cities. That’s not the story you hear in western media. China doesn’t work in the planned linear manner that the west do – they only bother regulating things when they become successful. Chinese politicians are the ultimate design thinkers.