a) We seem to have a great bunch of students this year. They're polite, inquisitive and willing to "go with the flow." Let's hope this sentiment, and their positive attitudes, continue over the next 9 days. :-)
b) Visits: Our visits today were really oustanding. Both were repeat visits but with significant, positive changes. The morning was spent with one of the global accounting firms, and with their senior partner in transaction services. He has 3 teenagers and will be returning home to San Fran in the next 3 weeks, after a successful 5-year stint in Shanghai. While he doesn't speak Chinese, his knowledge of the local landscape, frank overview of the what's happening with the economy and sense of humor were all great.
The afternoon was spent with at a furniture manufacturing factory strategically located in a free trade zone. They've invested significant resources just from last year trying to retool their recycling, "green" manufacturing and cost containment. They've even received new certifications. We had a detailed briefing, followed by Q&A, a plant tour and then more chances for questions by the students.
c) Economy: Every economy goes through its own respective cycles, and unfortunately China's is no exception. The wheels on the proverbial bus were, indeed, spinning round-and-round, and at quite a healthy pace, while the export market was alive and well. But, now that the US and Europe aren't spending as much as in prior years, mainland China's minimum wage is on-the-rise, and the government's attempts to increase domestic consumption are fair-to-midland at best, the local environment here is dramatically different. Everything is now being questioned,
whether it be personnel, costs or even policies, and the jury is still out regarding how things will play out. I will mention that the Chinese (language) media's account of what's occurring is actually closer to the truth than the coverage in the West.