China: Communism or Capitalism
I had been wanting to visit for quite some time. My folks visited there about 20 years ago. When I asked dad about the trip he made the comment that China was positioned to dominate the world in the future. At the time that comment seemed ridiculous to me, but I was curious and I valued my dad’s opinion. In the Fall of 2017 we discovered a travel deal to China that was just too good to pass up. It was an eleven day fully guided tour with airfare (it turned into a 13-day trip at the same price owing to a mix-up in flight schedules). It was a great trip that included numerous fully guided tours in five cities and accommodation in 4 & 5-star hotels.
The government is still stuck in the quagmire of Communism which is much less a socialist approach and more akin to an authoritarianist. Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power and limited political freedoms. The official policy of the government bans access to numerous websites including You Tube and Facebook. However, our guide assured us that it is common knowledge among the masses that there are fairly easy “work arounds” that provide access. However, Facebook is not that popular as they have their own version called “Campus” (XiaoNei in Chinese).
It did not take long to understand that capitalism is alive and well in China. One factor in the amazing trip value is that subsidies are provided by several Chinese companies. As part of the trip itinerary, tours of the following were provided: a pearl factory, a Jade store, a tea plantation, a bamboo factory, a Chinese Herbal Clinic & visits to three “markets”. All of these locations provided ample shopping opportunities. We did spend a modest amount at a few of these locations, but some in our group went all out! What impressed me the most was the marketing professionalism of the “presenters”. All were women, all spoke precise English and all were enthusiastic, animated, accomplished and convincing. It was evident that they all had received considerable and effective training. Almost all of these stops involved private, for profit companies. The only government owned enterprise was the Jade store and the same level of marketing professionalism was not evident.
Until the trip I was completely ignorant of Alibaba. This marketing giant is the world’s largest and most valuable retailer since April 2016, with operations in over 200 countries, as well as one of the largest Internet companies. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015. E-commerce giant Alibaba broke records with sales of $14.3 billion on China’s Singles’ Day. It is the largest online shopping day in the world. I would say that capitalism is alive & well in China.