Colonels Abroad in China: Feeling Safe in Beijing


Of course, since this trip is through Nicholls College of Business Administration, throughout we will be visiting and touring various businesses.

Although business isn’t my major, per se, it doesn’t make these tours any less interesting for me.

When I would tell people that I was going on this trip, I’d often get asked, “Aren’t you worried?” or “Is it safe?” I feel as though since China is a communist country, which is very different from the U.S., there is this false notion about the living conditions here. People may tend to equate this type of government with poverty and crime, but in all actuality it is the opposite. It turns out that China is a very wealthy country. Of course, there is poverty as in any country, but overall there is a lot of wealth here.

In addition to that, Dr. En Mao has told us numerous times that we are actually safer here than we are in the U.S. Crime rates are extremely low here, especially with guns not being allowed and crimes being treated very seriously. I have never felt unsafe walking the streets at night or when we are touring the local areas.

I thought that the businesses, too, would operate very differently here, especially with there being a very different style of government. So far, we have visited three different types of businesses. The first was Convatec, which is a company that creates and sells medical devices. Yesterday, we toured Focus Media, an advertising firm that specializes in advertisements in elevators. As odd as it sounds, the business is actually booming here. With China being a very busy country, and the majority of Beijing living in apartments, advertisements in elevators are highly effective. Last year, the business made over $10 billion!

The other business we toured was Best On Earth, also known as BOE. BOE makes high-tech screens for televisions, phones, cars, etc. The clarity of these screens is absolutely immaculate. There was one screen that was shown to us that was so in-depth, that many hospitals use it for surgeries in order to get a clearer view. Not to mention that one of these screens would cost about $200,000.

Overall, the business trips are very interesting! What I find the most intriguing about these trips is how heavily influenced they are by culture. Although these three businesses are seemingly really different, there was definitely an ongoing trend between the three.

When doing the question-and-answer sessions at the end of every meeting, a common question would be asked about working conditions, and how jobs were created, so on and so forth. What struck me the most was the common emphasis on the business as a team. The Chinese find it very impactful to work as a team, and how every individual’s work impacts the group as a whole. I found this very striking, especially since I feel as though in the U.S. we tend to place more emphasis on the self, rather than the group as a whole. We often times become so self-absorbed that we may end up losing the big picture at the end of the day.

I feel as though by not losing sight on teamwork, the Chinese have been able to catapult themselves to the high level of productivity that we see today. I look forward to seeing if these ideals will be an ongoing trend throughout the remaining business visits. Until next time, zijian!