The title is a bit misleading – it’s closer to “China might be able to take over the world, but they wouldn’t hold onto it forever.” That is a little less snappy though. All in all though, this is a pretty good breakdown of common misconceptions.
A Different Kind of Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut in China is very different than the American version. The restaurant itself is much nicer, encouraging you to sit-down and enjoy a higher-end experience. While I was in Shanghai, I managed to walk by one, though sadly, not be able to dine there – I’m not tempted by Pizza Hut in the US. For an idea of the difference, check out this video:
That said, I also stumbled across some fun differences in their menu. Some very interesting differences. Here are some menu items that you don’t see here in the States:
- Seafood Supreme (Thousand Island Sauce) Pizza
- Portuguese Chicken Rice
- Bacon Penne with Truffle Parsley Sauce
- Baked Vegetables in Portuguese Sauce
- Mashed Potato with Bacon in White Sauce
- French Style Escargots with Mashed Potato
- Thousand Island Seafood Con Carne
- Snack platters that include chicken wings, waffle fries, mini-sausages and baby back ribs
I also love that the delivery people in their advertising can shoot fire from their hands. That’s a great way to keep the pizza warm on its way from the restaurant.
Shī Shì shí shī shǐ
A story in which each syllable is pronounced/shi/
Shī Shì shí shī shǐ
Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.
Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den
In a stone den was a poet Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten.
He often went to the market to look for lions.
At ten o’clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.
At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.
He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.
He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.
The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.
After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.
When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.
Try to explain this matter.
From Chinese Time School
This reminds me of Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
The Chinese Oreo
Any foreign company that comes to China and says, ‘There’s 1 1/2 billion people here, goody goody, and I only need 1 percent of that’ … [is] going to get into trouble. You have to understand how the consumer operates at a really detailed level.
Lorna Davis, Global Biscuits Category Head at Kraft
Planet Money’s piece Rethinking The Oreo For Chinese Consumers provides an interesting view into the experience of one of the best known American brands stumbling, recovering and then dominating it’s market in China. It’s a fun read.
Innovation, the US and China
If you haven’t read the excellent How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work in the New York Times, you should do so now. The story describes a seismic shift in technology that many haven’t noticed until only recently.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
Similar stories could be told about almost any electronics company — and outsourcing has also become common in hundreds of industries, including accounting, legal services, banking, auto manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.
Charles Duhigg and Keith Brasaher- How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work
It’s also worth reading Why China Wins after you’ve read the first article for additional context:
Go to the lobby of the Sheraton Four Points in Shenzhen — or a dozen hotels like it. Table-after-table is a white guy from middle America trying to make his company competitive again sitting with a Chinese factory head or “fixer” who can get them into the right factories. It’s not unlike wandering into Cuppa Cafe in Palo Alto and seeing table-after-table of VC sitting with hopeful entrepreneurs.
It shocks me that people always assume the Chinese can only make inferior products when Apple– the gold standard of well-made products– is made in China. Sure, China can make shitty products for cheap. But it can also make the world’s best products. Again, like Silicon Valley can produce a bloated, uninteresting startup like Color and a nimble startup like Instagram that millions love. The startup machinery doesn’t make a company great or bad. It just makes whatever is put into it, more efficiently than any other place. Ditto China and manufacturing.
Sarah Lacy – Why China Wins
If you haven’t tossed all of your old assumptions about quality, innovation, China and the future already, you should do so now. If you want to be prepared for the future, you can’t carry old expectations as baggage.
Intro to Tencent Weibo
Tencent Weibo, one of the big Twitter competitors/clones in China has recently released an English version. While it’s a friendly welcome, the half-translated presentation makes it a bit hard to really dive in.
This is the first, in my new "Alex in China" series on Flickr.