Thursday, October 23, 2014

China experiences

Impressed, happy and enriched are words that describe how I feel right now. After two incredible weeks in China, I am now starting my journey back to Bengaluru.

One of the first thing I discovered as soon I landed in China, there is no access to Facebook, Google in China. So, it was kind of hard for me to remember the passwords for unused email accounts in Yahoo or Hotmail. 
I ended up creating a new account in Yahoo so that I can write back to my family that I reached China safely. 

My trip consisted of 2 parts
1. The official work
2. The personal weekend trip to Beijing

As soon as I landed in China, the internet censorship which was heard of ; but I was experiencing it first hand. It was kind of tough to imagine , how would I know something if I cant access google. We are so much used to few sites that we dont even remember alternatives offlate. With these thoughts in mind, I left the airport and was picked up by hotel staff in their Audi car. hmm! an Audi for taxi. But, wait ; I see so many Audi car on the road as soon I hit the highway.  

But, later once I came out of the little disappointment that Audi was just another car here and was able to see the city. I was impressed. 

Some background story before I talk about Linyi

If you see the map of China, Linyi is exactly in the middle of Beijing and Shanghai. Before starting my trip to China, I tried to search for Indian restaurant names in Linyi and found nothing on internet (I forgot that Google cant index Chinese websites)

After giving upon internet based search, I decided to check with my colleagues in China regarding the vegetarian food options in Linyi. Most of them said that its a small city or small place and there wont be any such options available. 

So for a Kannadiga; small city would be something like Tumkur or Davangere. When I landed in Linyi, I realized what does "small city" mean in Chinese terms. 

Linyi city has a 45th rank in terms of GDP and earnings among the Chinese cites. A city with 45th rank in terms of earnings has got infrastructure which cannot be matched with Bengaluru (stands 4th in Indian cities GDP earnings) 

In this small city (in Chinese terms) I could see huge wide roads, extensive range of hotels, nice cars etc. I landed in 5 star hotel and my room was in 17th floor. The hotel had 70+ floors offering various facilities , rooms and in-house entertainment options. 
 I would have never imagined a "small city" in Indian terms having such a hotel with big skyline building. 

When I saw the view from my room, I was even more surprised to see the skyline around. One of the view from my room. 

View of Linyi skyline

The other side of the room offered a view of the new attraction built by the government to promote tourism. 

Linyi Watch tower built on riverside
So, a small city in Chinese terms had so much of infrastructure, buildings, construction activity happening that we cant see even in metro or capital of India. 
I still remember a Chinese colleague saying 
"Chinese government believes in building hardware, not software like India " 

For them, hardware is not just electronics, its real infrastructure. Look at the below graph to get a idea !

Next obvious Q would be , how is the real estate in China.

My colleague said,  Prices have increased but the price rise is due to rise in new infrastructure facilities. 

Real estate in China is more linked to the average salary of the place. So, if the average salary in a city is 4000 RMB per month ; then 4000 RMB for 1 sq mtr (roughly 10sqft ) for a apartment would be the median price. That is kind of thumb rule for evaluation of property. 

Even 8000 RMB for 10 sqft of space would be considered as costly and would have lower occupancy than others. 

Where as in Bengaluru, if average salary is rs. 40,000 per month for a person (Blame it on IT for higher average salary) ; then its hard to get 10 sqft of constructed property for Rs. 40,000

In Bangalore, real estate prices increase since owners, brokers decide the price based on demand or just they like a fancy number.

I saw lot of interesting things around China , apart from the usual tourist things. 

Power plant in China
Source :
The coal plants pop up anywhere inside the city since cities grow so fast that its difficult for them to relocate everytime the city expands. 

Also, looking at number of coal plants ; I realize that China is self sufficient in power generation and distribution compared to India. 

But, domestic consumer (household) demand is going up and there is plans to increase output even more in coming days

How do the Chinese manage to build cities so fast? 

Infrastructure Expansion is always a problem when people are asked to resettle in India. I heard this from one of my colleague in China, whenever there is a new project or rehabilitation happening. 
The scheme of operation is as follows: 
Old buildings are demolished and new high rises are constructed in smaller area. The new apartments are 2-3 times larger than the old living spaces. Its something like the TDR which is offered in Bengaluru for acquiring property for sake of government/public infrastructure projects. 

So, people are happy to move from old buildings to newer one with better living space. Therefore, it makes it easier for government to build, rehabilitate at same time. 

Some more interesting things in China

1. Good highways

6 lane highways are common. There are 12 lane highways inside bigger cities where 8 lane are for high speed traffic, 2 lane of service road on either sides of highway which has bicycle lane included most of times.
So, its quite common to find internal roads within apartments or commercial offices are atleast 4lane wide to allow traffic in and out of the campus. 

Internal roads inside company 

2. Bullet trains

Hmm! this one , we are still talking of building a network of bullet train. We allocated rs. 100 crore to study the prospects of building one. The Chinese are using it already. :-)

China started building these high speed trains (HSR) in 2007 and by now, they have the largest network of HSR in the world. 
China has taken some extensive measures after the high speed train accident in 2011. 

I could see that safety standards are strictly followed in terminals, coaches, stations and I think, in other infrastructure related to HSR.  Also, the security around the stations are top-notch. 
There is a SWAT team (yes, similar to one seen in movies) which would be monitoring traffic at all times along with other security forces. 

Speed information display inside train

Bullet train or Fast train in China reach speeds upto 310 km per hour. Most of the journey is in elevated bridge since its easier to manage traffic and stay clear of obstructions from animals, humans etc. 

There are some parts where its goes underground but the speeds are at constant 308-312 km per hour during journey time. 
If the speed drops below 300, then its kind of indication that a station is approaching :-) 

3. Cleanliness in Public space

We are talking about the Swachaa Bharata now, but there is Swachaa China already. The train stations have facility similar to an airport. Its like a mini shopping mall since there are lots of shops selling branded goods, goodies etc.  Lots of food options with local and western cuisine available. 

Train stations have large number of people compared to airports. But, facilities are adequate to accommodate weekend rush and with cleanliness standards are way ahead of Indian railway stations.

When it comes to other public space, there is cleanliness which is similar to Western/European cities standards. Most of time, we can see that cleaning staff are engaged in cleaning throughout the day unlike in Bengaluru , where we see them only in morning time before peak hour traffic starts.

Also, people dont litter around so much as we do and most of the places have dustbins which are used effectively.
Beijing train station

Its good to see that cities dont have flashy banners like the ones we have. In Bengaluru, the buildings, walls, lamp posts etc are filled ugly banners carrying wishes from aspiring leaders and their patrons.
Wonder, when will we reach these standards in public cleanliness and awareness? Swacha Bharata is good start and hope Government doesnt lose momentum in long run. 

Typical street in Linyi

4. Skyline in cities

China will have more skyscrapers than the U.S. by 2017, according to MotianCity, a research organization in China focusing on skyscrapers. 
After being in USA for a while and seeing China now, I think China is already ahead of USA in terms of skyscrapers.
Skyline in smaller cities like Linyi

Skyline in big cities like Beijing

China developers are currently building 332 new buildings, all over 152 meters tall, and there’s another 516 in the planning stages. In contrast, only six skyscrapers are under construction in the U.S. at present, with another 24 in the works, according to MotianCity.

What are we building in India ? World's largest status oops statue right :-P

Let compare 2 countries on few parameters just to give an idea of how good it is to compare or not compare with China. 


3,287,263 sq km 
9,596,960 sq km
Area - comparative
 Slightly more than one-third the size of the US      
 Slightly smaller than the US
Having land boundaries with
6 countries
14 countries
Arable land (cultivable land)


1.2 billion
1.35 billion
Median Age
27 years
37 years
Population growth rate
Net migration rate
-0.05 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
-0.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
67 years
75 years
Urban population
31.3% of total population (2011) 
50.6% of total population (2011) 


India made it's first attempt at economic liberalization much earlier- in 1966,and once again,in 1985, but failed on both occasions, due to politics taking precedence over economics.
Since the early 1990s, India was forced to make more reforms to save its economy. It has increased its global outreach and opened the markets to FDI.
We are now focusing on improving our manufacturing capabilities after establishing supremacy in IT services sector. 
 After 1978, MAO's successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and as a result of these measure ; by 2000, output had quadrupled. 
For greater % of population, living standards have improved dramatically and the room for personal choice has expanded, yet political controls remain tight. 
Since the early 1990s, China has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.
Trying to become a economic superpower, but still have traces of its past British era policies and mindset.

Started privatization, disinvestment drive in order to foster growth and fund investment in other areas. 

Challenges : 
1. Becoming more investor friendly
2. Create a employable workforce
3. Minimal environmental damage, maximize manufacturing industrial output. 
World's largest exporter

Support for state-owned enterprises in sectors considered important to "economic security"

Challenges :
1. Reducing its high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic consumption
2. Facilitating higher-wage job opportunities for the aspiring middle class
3. Containing environmental damage

This gives an idea on where should be our priorities for next 20 years instead of just comparing with China or trying to become one more China.

 There are positive and negatives on both side, India and China alike. Its no longer useful if we keep trumpeting our positives and forget to work on our negatives. 
Lets try to build a better nation and have a real 'inclusive growth' instead of just talking about it. 

Next post would be on cultural differences, food and what makes Chinese better! 


Unknown said...

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ಆನಂದ್ ಎಂ ಬಿ

Shrikanth R said...

Good one Harsha Waitng for the next one :)

praveen pl said...

Good write up harsha and also statistics are well collected...!