Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1st real day of class

Yesterday was our first real day of class. In the morning we had a lecture on Chinese Cultures and Values. The lady who spoke to us was really interesting. We learned a lot about the differences between China and the US. For example, in China people believe in absolute virtue more than absolute truth. They believe the truth is always relative and that honoring hierarchical relationships are more important than the truth. A couple of examples to see how this manifests itself in the real world: a mother/wife would lie to the police to protect her husband or child or the opinion of a well respected elder in a business is more important than the truth of what might actually be the best strategy for a company. Having been raised in a society which holds democracy and capitalism as the ultimate truth for the government and economy, it was really interesting to here someone speak about the benefits of communism. We believe that electing our leaders holds them to a higher standard. She spoke about how the severe punishment a leader would face in China for making mistakes keeps their government leaders ever wary and cautious. I didn't agree with everything she said, but she definitely had some interesting opinions and it was a really great unique perspective.

In the afternoon, we had this really energetic Chinese economist speak to us. He was one of the first graduates of Tsinghua University. Tsinghua, where we are studying, is one of the best universities in the countries. Many of the leaders of the country are graduates as well. China's economy is in a really interesting place right now. There is so much depth for growth and they have had the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the United States. The sheer number of people here combined with the wide disparity in wealth leads to a really deep economy. China is very quickly becoming a nation of consumers. He predicted the rise of Chinese multinational companies in the future in addition to the huge potential for Chinese investment around the world due to the high savings rate. It was such a privilege to get to hear one of the top economic minds in the country speak to our group about issues that are at the forefront of business. The chinese economy is very regulated. We asked him how the central bank controlled interest rates in comparison to the US. He said it is very simple, they just tell the banks what the interest rates should be! Ha, at least he was honest!

In between our classes we had lunch at a pretty neat restaurant. Apparently it was a traditional ten course chinese meal. It was served family style on a lazy susan. Don't ask me what the things are, I have no idea. Actually, I have stopped asking on the advice of our professor. He says sometimes you would just rather not know!!

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