Very happy to announce Bravo Charlie has been appointed as a supplier for the Australian Governments Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development through to 2020, via the ICT Services Panel, in the areas of Enterprise, Information and Application Architecture, Web Services, Audio Visual and Video services 🙂
22nd January 2017, means it’s Bravo Charlies eighth year of incorporation and 8 being lucky number, it’s time we’re getting serious about about our bridge to Asia for Australian companies!
Late last year we incorporated in Hong Kong – special thanks to John Barclay and the team at Primeasia Corporate Servicess, HSBC have opened our bank accounts meaning we can trade in the region – and after visiting China on several occasions visiting Shànghai, Beijing, Xiàmén, Sùzhou, we’re getting to experience more of what it’s like on the ground but more importantly to develop relationships with media partners who can distribute content inside the Great Firewall.
Also we have partnerships in Australia with companies such as Chin Communications who have already been translating content for us and it’s effective and has been proven.
I’m so excited about what we can do for Australian companies, we’ve got the faith of the Moulamein Grain cooperative, a large group of farmers who are delivering product directly to China – and I just keep meeting these people who are excited and the opportunity of technology;
There’s so much on the horizon from the basic tools, you know everything that goes in the car from the drones to the cameras and the sliders and so on and so forth, virtual realities on the horizon and whilst these things are all technically interesting, fundamentally it doesn’t matter what budget you’ve got it, but matters that you make content – and not just content for content sake, content that fits with your business development processes.
You may not even have those but that’s what Bravo Charlie does – we figure out where you are and what you want to get to, then we create the story to get you there and we integrate it and support you and using the latest technology to move that content around your network, to capture new clients, to engage new people, to deliver to your stakeholders things they may not know that they’ll be proud of and there’s just so much we can do.
The majority of our work we do has been with industrial high technology companies, it’s a bedrock in Australia – we know lot we do a lot but we kind of keep it under the radar and if we want to do more of it in the world we need to capture what it is we do and put in a shareable format that people can latch on to and go ‘ooh’ I want that – and that’s where Bravo Charlie comes in –
We’re really coming at this from a return on achieve results perspective (ROAR) so if you’re not making money we don’t expect to be paid – its kind of let’s go in lets learn because really moving to Asia, developing relationships in Asia is a lifelong thing, it’s not get, get out –
It’s a commitment and if you have the budget and the inclination, if you see that it has to happen if you’re going to sustain growth or access new markets then let’s talk –
I would ask a favor; if you know people that are in this area, creating world changing technology – I want to be a part of it; I want to help them get their message out to the world, it’s a story worth telling – and the world is waiting for their story.
So please if you know somebody in Asia who we should be talking to, if you know an Australian company who’s proud of what they do and maybe just doesn’t have the marketing really firing, introduce us, send them over –
Let’s have a chat and I’d love to hear from you and what you’re excited about.
I got back to Melbourne from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Friday – I flew over to see for myself if they were A. honest and B. serious – take a look for yourself;
The guts of it is the electric axle generates an average of 15% fuel savings, then as an auxiliary power unit engine idling is no longer required and the underbody has an aero effect which further improves fuel efficiency – their road-tested averages deliver 30% fuel savings with routes that contain elevation changes.
If you’re a fleet owner in Australia, please get in touch directly via 0402 017 700 / email@example.com – we are completing 2017 production planning for Australia and taking non-binding reservation requests that close at the end of October for 2017 deliveries.
How does it work? What will it do for you?
The road to Pittsburgh (from Melbourne)
I was watching a tech journalist called Robert Scoble broadcast live over Facebook at 3 am in the morning on the 6th of April, 2016 – from there I got in touch with the team and recently flew over to verify everything – I was both impressed and excited to bring this back to Australia. You can see that initial interview with the CEO and some updated graphics below;
About Hyliion (http://www.hyliion.com/pages/about-us)
“.. As a mechanical engineer and motorsports racer, Hyliion Founder and CEO Thomas Healy set out to bring the advantages of hybrid technology to tractor trailers. His mission was to minimize fuel costs for long-haul, over-the-roaddelivery fleets by bringing electric technology to tractor trailers in an add-on solution.
Following wins at business case competitions across the country, interest for the concept grew, and so did investment. The group expanded their engineering team and strategic advisors to include electric vehicle experts, truck and fleet owners, and business leaders. Hyliion’s patent-pending technology has won accolades from the U.S. Department of Energy, Wells Fargo, Rice University, and Shell Technology Ventures, among others..”
What next? How do you get involved in the Reservation System?
Currently we are completing non-binding reservation requests for Australian 2017 deliveries – Reservations give you priority to evaluate, purchase, and take delivery of a number of production units.
While the Reservation gives you priority, it does not constitute the purchase or order of any equipment and it in no way obligates you to complete a Purchase Agreement.
Based on a completed reservation request, we will ask you to configure your system and choose a financing option prior to the start of production for your Reservation.
Hyliion will create an order for your system and you will receive a Purchase Agreement indicating the price of the equipment, plus estimates of any applicable taxes, duties, transport and delivery charges, and any other applicable fees.
Remember, a reservation in no way obligates you to complete a Purchase Agreement, though whilst Hyliion will make their best efforts to accommodate your needs further down the line, Reservations with Purchase Agreements will have priority.
Why use a Reservation system?
The company is experiencing a tremendous amount of demand and are dedicated to ensuring this technology is taken to a broad market, which includes Australia.
Rather than accept offers to give the entire production capacity to a single company, through the reservation system Hyliion are able to complete production planning and balance distribution in the USA, Europe and Australia.
Okay – I’m in!
Good to hear – please call me on 0402 017 700 or email philip # at # bravocharlie.tv so I can answer any further questions you have and supply your organisation with a reservation request form –
It’s official! 7 years and 9 months after incorporating Bravo Charlie in Australia, we are now also incorporated in Hong Kong! Thanks for all the support folks, every day in every way, it’s been a pleasure to support your growth and tell your stories, onwards (and northwards) – the Orient awaits!
The 19th China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) was an incredible event, to which the Australian Business Forum team (http://abf.events) and Mr Ray Evans did a terrific job organizing one of the two Australian pavilions –
A special thanks to Kate Ritchie, Yao Cheng and the team at http://www.chincommunications.com.au for their help in getting our print material and video translations done – they were exceptional value.
During the CIFIT it was our great pleasure to meet with Mr Jeoven Wong, Director General of the CIFIT / Xiamen Municipal Bureau of Convention & Exhibition Affairs –
During the event we attended several presentations and match making, though for ourselves as B2B service providers primarily supporting English language businesses, some of the biggest benefit was joining and learning from the group of Australians pioneering their enterprises into Asia;
Aside from the inter-country antics, high level diplomats and investment meetings, I was very pleased to see wobble-boards and vitamix’s being given the high energy Mandarin sales treatment, along with a host of super high tech gadgets, transport and hydroponic soil-less gardening tech, including kids boxing robots that stood themselves up when fallen over in any direction and the like.
Marian and I look forward to developing relationships with the wonderful people and companies we met, as well as returning to the 2017 CIFIT to further http://bravocharlie.tv ‘s support of Australian companies heading north into Asia.
Dean Woodall approached me as an interview subject for his Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship subject at Victoria University; having spent years interviewing others, I feel quite honoured to be able to share with you an insight into our work at Bravo Charlie that is more than a simple ‘behind the scenes’ photo and the numerous finished products;
Phillip Bateman is an entrepreneur who has given the art of producing video clips for businesses a truly innovative edge. This is a summary report of an interview conducted on Monday, March 14 2016, and details how his company – Bravo Charlie – brings together bespoke consulting services and business ‘gap’ analysis with video production in an example of innovation being organised into a systematic activity (Drucker 1985).
On their own, each of these functions are nothing new, but in synthesising “existing concepts and factors into a new formulation” (Frederick and Kuratko 2010, p.170), Bateman has targeted a “high potential, technology intensive commercial opportunity” (Dorf and Byers 2005, p.42) for clients that include QBE Insurance and American International Group (AIG).
Frederick and Kuratko (2010, p.170) note that “most innovations are simple and focused”, and that they are “directed towards a specific, clear and carefully designed application”. Bravo Charlie’s unique business offering is that (in addition to creating modern digital content for their clients) they undertake extensive business ‘gap’ analysis consulting.
By identifying the resources, future product potential as well as the strengths and weaknesses of his clients, Bateman is able to clearly define where the client wants to be within twelve months. From this, he creates a strategy; then films and edits the digital story to help his client achieve these goals.
As mentioned, video production and business analysis are hardly innovative; however by synthesising the two, Bateman plays out his own ‘creative destruction’ (Schumpeter 1942), and seeks to break the mould of traditional advertising. He further takes advantage of opportunities such as the internet, what he refers to as a “far more personal” medium, to help his clients tell a more personal story than advertising can ever do alone.
Bateman asserts that people buy from people, and rather than blasting their customers or other stakeholders with what he calls “pretty” videos; he provides a medium for his clients to engage directly with an audience – and extracts a genuine story in the process.
Bateman is hardly new to the concept of innovation, and is actually undertaking a Masters of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Swinburne University; which is noteworthy in the context of Bessant and Tidd (2011) who describe the role a university can play as an ‘incubator organisation’.
The idea for Bravo Charlie, however, took flight when Bateman (having just come out of a failed partnership to commercialize a fuel saving technology during the GFC) took a small job filming content for Melbourne café ‘Shocolate’ with a friend’s mobile phone. Of the 900 people on their mailing list, 850 watched the video, and 820 purchased the product.
Whilst Frederick and Kuratko (2010) might describe this as Bateman’s “idea experience”, the creative process no doubt started much earlier. The “background phase”, as described by Frederick and Kuratko (2010), might apply in Bateman’s case growing up around family businesses and carrying out several middle management functions in his twenties, including extensive experience as a Business Development Manager in IT, web and e-commerce.
Additionally, Marian Marsden – his business (and real life) partner – describes Bateman as an avid accumulator of knowledge who is “always looking” for new concepts and ides.
Indeed Bateman identifies his “getting skills for life” as a key strength. What Frederick and Kuratko describe as the “incubation phase”, may have occurred during his years in middle management and marketing; and after his “idea experience”, would have left him well equipped to “Evaluate and Implement” his idea in the final of Frederick and Kuratko’s (2010) phases.
Important in light of the final phase of Frederick and Kuratko’s model is that Bateman (and Marsden) are always adapting Bravo Charlie; they’re constantly re-educating and adapting the Bravo Charlie concept to suit the needs of their clients and the context of the environment.
Bateman and Marsden (who takes on the role of general manager) see themselves as craftspeople and both baulk at being labelled ‘Entrepreneurs’.
The term itself does remain a “slippery concept” (Blundel and Lockett 2011, p.4) however, and although Frederick and Kuratko (2010) define Entrepreneurship as a “dynamic process of vision, change and creation”, de Bruin (2007) asserts that there is no clear consensus on a definition with the term “often being applied within a range of settings and used with marked variations in meaning”.
Bateman asserts that he and Marsden are great at getting the “gold” out of their clients, and that they “love helping people who are good at what they do to do more of it.” Whilst the revenue they receive is definitely a motivator, the amount of charitable work they do also plays a critical role.
For example, the business model has three levels of pricing that allows for freelance musicians or charities such as Uniting-Care in the city of Wyndham to tell a story just as well (and to the same quality) as QBE Insurance or AIG. Additionally, Bateman insists that what keeps him going in his business is that he would not know how to do anything else, and has an odd assortment of professional memberships that include both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Cinematographers Association.
This implies a level of vision, change and creation beyond the norm of regular advertising, inspiration that exceeds the “humdrum inputs that respond to ordinary economic incentives” (Caves 2003, p.73).
That is not to say that Bateman does not recognise Schumpeter’s description of the “powerful links between innovation and profit” (Bessant and Tidd 2011, p.58).
He describes “sales” as an integral part of what he does; and is always looking to speak at a conference, much of which is self-promoting. Without sales, he wouldn’t succeed.
He also identifies word of mouth marketing as vital to Bravo Charlie’s success and singles out his “elevator pitch” as a key strength.
As in many small businesses, cash flow is the most difficult situation faced by Bravo Charlie; and the role of the family (as well as the support afforded by Marsden) is not lost on Bateman.
Without what Bateman and Marsden refer to as their “living inheritance”, Bravo Charlie might not exist today. It gives them “space for ideas”, which notably (in addition to the trust shown by Marsden in her supporting role) reflect precisely what Bessant and Tidd (2011) describe as the two most important factors that influence innovation.
That said; what Tidd and Bessant (2011) further describe as “organisational slack”, that too much support can breed complacency – and that too little can stymie ideas, applies to Bateman who regularly works 60 hours per week to deliver projects in what is his sole form of income.
A core value of Bravo Charlie could be described as “just keep going”; which is yielding results as his revenue – whilst very small in the first years of operations – has now grown to over $160,000 for the last financial year.
This “space for ideas”, however, has lead Bateman to have some major aspirations for the future of his business. Over the next five years he plans to set up a wholly foreign owned entity in Shanghai, and plans an innovative ‘extension’ of the Bravo Charlie concept, into one which helps Australian and Chinese businesses bridge the gaps between their respective markets.
He believes that through Bravo Charlie, he can forge a cross cultural understanding between Australian and Chinese businesses that has not yet been achieved; and he has already taken steps in this direction by joining the Australia-China Council.
In conclusion, Bravo Charlie is an innovative business concept that has taken advantage of opportunities afforded by the internet. Bateman has synthesised existing ideas into a new concept; and has taken that concept successfully to market. Whilst he does not like referring to himself as an entrepreneur, Bateman leverages his skills as an interviewer, businessman and filmmaker – and has aspirations for the international expansion of his “baby”.
Bessant, J & Tidd, J 2011, Innovation and entrepreneurship, 2nd edn, John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex, UK.
Blundel, R & Lockett, N 2011, Exploring entrepreneurship, practices and perspectives, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Caves, R 2003, ‘Contracts between art and commerce’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 73-83.
De Bruin, A 2007, ‘Building the film industry in New Zealand’, in Henry, C (ed) Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries, Edward Elgar, Gloucestershire, UK.
Dorf, R & Byers, T 2005, Technology ventures, from idea to enterprise, McGraw-Hill, New York, USA.
Drucker, P 1985, Innovation and entrepreneurship, Butterworth-Heinemann, Woburn, USA.
Frederick, H & Kuratko, D 2010, Entrepreneurship, theory, process, practice, 2nd edn, Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, Australia.
Schumpeter, J 1942, Capitalism, socialism and democracy, Harper and Brothers, New York, USA.
It’s been seven and half years running http://BravoCharlie.tv and I’m proud to be helping Australia’s best businesses capture and share their stories in honest ways, using interview journalism to achieve the vision of the CEO and in turn the board. If you’re considering video, I urge you not to ‘settle for pretty’ – to find someone that knows about business that can ask better questions to get better answers from your staff. The results will amaze you 🙂
Thanks to Marian Marsden and Love Hawkridge for their excellent work on this project.
Learnt a lot, met some great people and thanks Amex for the coffee at the China Digital conference, part of the B2B/AusChina event in Sydney via Australian Business Forum – got some great insights on how the Chinese digital media landscape works and I’d be happy to chat with you about it in detail, so give me a call!
I was thinking about food pricing, local farms and getting them away from having to sell to Coles and Woolworths when the GM for Research and Development of the NSW Farmers Federation sat down next to me. Serendipitous Universe.
“.. Apple, meanwhile, just abandoned its failed ad business, iAds, which began back in 2010. Now, with no ad business holding Apple back, the company has the potential to do something radical: phase out advertising on its platforms altogether.
It would be a big bet, one reliant on the premise that the demand for a great user experience will outweigh potential profits from advertising and tracking. But given Apple’s devoted target customers, the move would make a lot of sense.
This radical philosophy is what differentiates Netflix in the streaming space, and it appears Apple is moving in a similar direction. Phasing out ads is a luxury afforded by Apple’s hardware business model, as well as a direct attack on Google’s data-dependent ad business.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cooke hasn’t hidden his contempt for advertising and tracking technology.
“I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
Gloves off, time to get with the program. If you aren’t in marketing you might think the people in said area that you work with are either delusional or stupid.
If you are in marketing, you may need to apologize to the rest of your organisation, that holds themselves to effective use of company funds, as if you watch the following video I think you may admit, collectively we’re not doing a good job.
So do it – watch this, then rock 2016 by not wasting your co-workers time making things no one sees, give back the money you’re burning to other areas of the company that need it, massively increase the efficiency of your sales process, make the sales people happier; the marketing team more engaged, the operations staff more appreciative and the finance controller clap their hands with glee.
The CEO will come out pretty well too, then the board can pat each other on the back – see, it’s a chain, all it requires is paying attention, getting honest and not being stupid. A big ask? You can do it, I believe in you.
If you’ve made it this far, read the top, skipped the video with a bit of a scoff at the length, then at least consider the money you are spending on brochures, magazines, print in general, outdoor advertising, billboards et al and watch this > it’s not intended to be a platform specific reference (seriously, watch the keynote above) though you get the point (don’t you?)
Thanks for paying attention and P.S. – here I am talking about all this from April 28th in 2010 (before I knew how to produce videos with stereo audio 🙂 ).
As a follow up, here’s something a bit more schnazzy from May 2014;
If you found this interesting, please like and share this article – also, leave a comment below? What did you learn? What inspired you? What new areas are you embarking into? What questions does your company repeatedly get asked that could be captured to reduce customer service time? What work do your colleagues do that forms the success of your company and what would capturing it in video so it’s shareable enable for you?
I’ve watched with keen interest Facebook’s transition to delivering video to its user base, as it sits in my phone at the moment, the videos play one after the other without pause. The bandwidth is up, the quality is up, the uploading features and management of the videos is up. Statistically the claim is ‘4 billion daily video views’ and that is going to rise.
What fascinates me about it is the contextual and social reach embedded on the platform, that content (and yourself) can then leverage. For example a week ago, the 21st of January, I uploaded a video to YouTube and the same video to Facebook, the YouTube and Facebook links were then sent out to a small group of people.
Caveat emptor, this video was for a social cause with a passionate fan base, what I’m demonstrating to you is the embedded capacity for sharing and contextual distribution of the platforms, not the potential effectiveness of your widget explainer video –
Now on Facebook,
Having hit 2,300 people in reach, I added $20 to target ‘friends of friends who like the page’ and I’m about to stick on a series of adverts that target males and females separately, broken up by age brackets, geographically located within the postcode, then based on the effectiveness of the tests, push further into the demographic that responds. This will work for your widget videos.
In closing, I want to share with you two things – firstly,
“.. The single most important strategy in content marketing today is video. Whether it’s video on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Youtube, the content you need to be thinking about creating and marketing on social for your business is video. Period.
No matter what you’re selling, no matter what your company does, if you don’t have a video marketing strategy for the biggest video platforms, you are going to lose. And in case you haven’t noticed, the platforms of distribution for video content online have shifted drastically over the last 18 months. Facebook is getting more daily minutes watched than YouTube, Snapchat’s daily views are now in the billions, and video on Twitter has taken listening and one to one branding to a whole new level..”
Secondly, for some balance on the perspective of sell sell sell that seems to consume LinkedIn literature, Dr. Gabor Mate conducting a short interview that discusses ‘the myth of normal’ and his explanation of how mental distress and pathology are largely a result of a materialist culture that “idealizes individualism and ignores our emotional needs..”
Thank you for reading – if you got something out of this, please like and share the article.
22nd of January, 2016 – that would be the 7th birthday of Bravo Charlie! Thank you for your ongoing support;
Our 6th year of operation included documenting businesses, their customers and projects from Melbourne to Cairns, North America, Malaysia, Vietnam and our first time in China through Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Changzhou. We even snuck in a few weeks of language study 🙂
To all of our clients that have trusted in myself, Marian and the team we bring to develop a business development strategy for you, then capture and craft your stories in powerful ways that benefit your businesses, thank you!
To the advisers and consultants who refer folks to us, those who work tirelessly in various Government programs and departments, then those who go on to talk about the power of the media we have created for them, thank you!
It is a fascinating, challenging and rewarding journey – one we are both pleased to be a part of.
The primary video we created for them has been extremely well received, being shared amongst federal and state members of parliament as well as the community getting behind it – the majority of action being on Facebook – click here to take a look – and below you can see the YouTube hosted version;
We are in the process of adding more content, setting up their Social media system and YouTube channel
Additionally we are in the process of editing our 2016 marketing videos and developing the new http://videoproduction.melbourne website –
Happy New Year to you! Marian and I had a wonderful break spending 7 days away at the Renaissance Festival in South Eastern Victoria, both relaxing and performing with the Ballistix Drum Crew – we are excited to get back to telling compelling stories for our clients (and you if you aren’t yet a client!) – through January we are both attending a Mandarin Language Intensive study program with the Confucius Institute at Melbourne University in preparation for our further work in China – exciting times!
Assisting companies in Australia interact with Asian markets and assisting Chinese organisations to share their progress, products and potential with Western markets is something I am passionate about.
What are you excited about in the coming year? Get in touch and let me know – I look forward to hearing from you soon 🙂
Had a great morning visiting http://www.appliedmachinery.com.au – industry leading technology and quality second hand gear; bend it, press it, plasma / laser cut and shred it all in the one location – obviously the place for your industrial machinery needs!
The guys we met leave home at 11 pm and get home at 2 pm, the market opens to buyers at 3:30 am and they all try to be out by 6:30 / 7. Meaning *before* 3:30 am your daily stock needs to be on the floor, ready for purchase from your warehouse, then cleared out by 8 or 9 am. It’s all a bit amazing and hard work too.
The majority of farms are in Werribee, north in Shepperton or East / South-East in Gippsland.
Hey you, Victorian (Australian?) resident making 2 tons of waste per year, that figure isn’t going down I’m told it’s going up?! The word is Melbourne’s population of 3.5 million is on a trajectory to hit 8 million by 2050, unprecedented for developed cities as a growth percentage – and we have one of the largest foot prints of a city anywhere in the world – this growth means we have more in common with developing nations than developed ones from an infrastructure perspective*.
Back to those 2 tons a year..
Did you know the majority of European cities are putting 0 to 2% (that’s zero to two percent) of recyclable material into their landfills? What do you think the Australian percentage is? 40? 50? It’s 90%.
Not only do we produce more trash per person than the vast majority of our first world counter parts, our national waste management is such 90% of our waste goes unrecovered and gets stuck in the ground ‘as is’.
So.. Whilst this is an awesome truck (pictured below), which you can acquire yourself c/o wastech.com.au (and Ken Russ, pictured), looking after our society for now and the future starts with your purchasing decisions, then it ends with your level of awareness and relevant expectation of the way council and private enterprise process *your* waste.
Get involved? Learn a little, do your part, waste less, start a conversation with people around you 🙂
*information sourced from an opening address by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and CEO of Sustainability Victoria, Stan Krpan.
As an aside, great to see Steinert with a beautiful booth at the Waste and Recycling Expo, featuring video content we made with them! 🙂
Let us journey through a story of thoughts, sights and feelings; of colours and greys, never black or white. Many arrived first hand during ten days in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Changzhou, others recounted to me and some still whispered, in all cases, no names – hearsay – a reduction of my personal ignorance and ideally a lens through which you may broaden your own perspective.
One eye is enough
Guanxi and ..
2 divided by 1 equals 6
Historical Theatre and Dynastic industrialisation
A troubled diagnosis
Hukou AKA Change your university, change your life
Flirting, love and children
The 50 cent club
The Magic Bus(es)
The other side of the coin
Creating Great Empires
Industrial Ghosts & The New World
The longevity of crane and pine
Staggering, uncountable residential construction, from the edge of the horizon to as far back as the murky grey sky will let you see.
Taken from the train between Beijing and Shanghai, 27th June, 2015
Briefly, travelling at 300 kph on the train from Shanghai to Suzhou, towering apartment blocks clad in scaffolding and topped with cranes gave way to rice paddies, individuals and couples wading through the windrows – no sooner had five to six minutes of the journey passed (25-30 kilometres for the mathematicians amongst you) the towers rose up again.
Build it and they will come? Ghost cities? A development frenzy? All of these things were spoken within my group, though it seems the only facts I could discern where that due to the loss of its textile industry and generally its output as a manufacturer, established residential buildings in the Tier 3 city we visited, Changzhou, where emptying at a rate of knots, yet house prices were not lowering with the lack of demand.
Coupled with this, new construction in the surrounding areas was going on at a rate my brain fought back against considering even possible, let alone normal.
Whilst an Australian construction engineer talked to me of the low quality foundations that were employed, occasionally causing these buildings to physically fall over – “Every year, new buildings in China total up to 2 billion square meters … but our buildings can only stand 25 to 30 years on average” – Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development (Short-lived buildings create huge waste, 2010) – I see the construction based economy in general transition to one of domestic consumption and services.. “On a basic level, it was inevitable that the Chinese growth rates of the past three decades, which averaged 10% a year, would wane … Growth of 7% this year for China would generate more additional output than a 14% pace did in 2007.” (Why China’s economy is slowing, 2015)
“..on another level, the focus on the slowdown seems almost myopic. China joined an exclusive club last year: its economic output exceeded $10 trillion, making it only the second country to achieve that feat (America reached this level in 2000) … the economy today includes more labour-intensive services than in the past, China is doing even better at creating new jobs: it added 13.2 million urban jobs last year, compared with 12 million in 2007..” (China’s slowdown: From a very big base, 2015)
One eye is enough
Traditional Chinese Shadow Puppet theatre (above and below left)
In Lao Tse tea house, next to Tiananmen Square, a parable of unstoppable greed and ultimate demise played out in ancient form – when fortune favours you, is it right to pressure and cajole for more or best to accept and enjoy? Karma, Confucianism, materialism, Communism, capitalism, Buddhism – so many ism’s and all available to witness in a day touring China.
Lighting towers adorned with surveillance equipment in Tiananmen square (right)
Looking towards the Imperial Palace from Tiananmen square
Workers Statue inside Tiananmen square
Zhengyangmen – “Gate of the Zenith Sun” or “Beautiful Portal” – remainder of Imperial City Wall
Guanxi and ..
Told to us by a professor at Skema business school who was working on ‘Updating the Guanxi Model for Contemporary Chinese Business’, the traditional model of the system of favours generated through personal interactions amongst people.
For those whom this is a new term, Guanxi is used almost like a currency that flows below, around and above most interactions, arguably to the detriment of a rationale, merit-based system of awarding contracts or work.
It is generated through gifts of time, money or support in order to hold favour with others and these favours are not for immediate repayment, maybe months, years or even decades can transpire – in all things, the smartest Chinese play the long-game.
Referencing the traditional model (above) the professor detailed the inner and outer circles, explaining that the inner circle, generally only joinable through marriage, was no longer possible to integrate to for the majority of people, since China’s transition to the one child policy.
In the professors’ case of having fix or six siblings, the inner circles were reasonable to get into – these days, not so much.
‘I’ – notice it’s in capitals, even if ‘I’ put it in the middle of a sentence? Apparently English is the only language that has this. In Mandarin, the closest approximation to I roughly translates as selfish – the entire concept of I doesn’t exist in the language, thus on the premise we create our reality through the language we use, ‘I’ to the 1.6 billion Mandarin speakers of the world is a concept far removed, even negatively considered it could be said.
“.. There are always individual differences of personality within any broad cultural group. Ignoring someone’s personality and their subcultural group memberships runs the risk of stereotyping them by saying, in effect: “All Australians are…” or “All Malaysians are…” Statements of this kind are far too sweeping and very likely to be proved untrue when you get to know the person..” (Byrne, 2013)
Collectivist at the far right of the scale – China, Individualist on the far left – Australia. This is obviously manifest when travelling with a group of 10 or so early 20’s Australians through Asia; no cohesion in group movement, a general meandering of transit and arrival.
At rest, the group usual forms into a circle, personal space evenly distributed, no one touching, please, thank you and apologies for perceived or potential intrusions into another’s’ ‘personal space’ – the theoretical, heavily reinforced and relatively palpable bubble of the self, surrounding us all.
“Wow she is direct – she just tells us what to do” comes up frequently in relation to one of our Chinese tour leaders; “Get on the bus. Get off the bus” – “A please would be nice” – for whom and why? Your bubble of self which perceives this interaction through a lens from a different continent?
“.. The first step in dismantling wrong attributions is to become aware that the process is normal and almost inevitable. This requires a skill often called externalisation, the ability to stand outside yourself and look at things objectively, rather than subjectively. (Byrne, 2013)
Space is at a premium in China, things happen quickly and as we observed when getting a group booking passage through a busy railway station ahead of several hundred waiting people, one of our Chinese students remarked ‘this is trouble, in China everyone is equal, this is seen as racist and they are upset’.
Crowds are tightly controlled, things are done in stages and when the doors open the human flood commences – you can be swept along, almost running, or get the hell out of the way – simple.
Also, do not be late. The Chinese aren’t, despite the horrendous traffic of Shanghai and Beijing, in business punctuality is key.
N 4th Ring Rd Middle taken from Olympic Park in Beijing
2 divided by 1 equals 6
A further ramification of the one child policy was expressed by an employer “I have kids here in their first job on low wages, first year out of University, and they have new cars and iPhone 6’s, I don’t even have an iPhone 6 – how is that possible?”
Two parents and four grandparents was his answer.
Further insights came when the same man expressed his belief in the Chinese ethos of “If I earn $1 more I move” related to staff retention.
Historical Theatre and Dynastic industrialisation
A door inside a historical protected village near Taihu lake
Mao Tse Dong – founding member of the Communist Party of China (CPC)
He led the Long March, a series of treks covering 9,000+ kilometres over 370 days through “some of the most difficult terrain of Western China” (Long March, 2014) – a military retreat for 86,000 members of the Mao faithful, escaping from the surrounding Nationalist forces.
Without having the Japanese invade in 1937 and the Guomindang Nationalists calling a truce with the CCP to repel the invaders, they were poised to exterminate the communists, of which only 7,000 survived, a loss of close to 80,000 souls from the initial group 12 months earlier.
In part, I was told for this reason Mao said to the Japanese not to worry about war reparations in the same way that Germany provided to Europe in the aftermath of World War II, as I heard it “without Japan, the infant that was Communist China would never have survived – for this we owe the Japanese a debt” – contrast this against the massive anguish associated with the conduct of the Japanese throughout China and what I’ve read via Iris Chang in “The Rape of Nanking” – never black or white, grey all round.
Having never dug into Chinese history beyond cursory documentaries, I held Mao in the regard that he had single headedly lifted China from a nation of rice and under international duress, opium farmers, to their present state. What surprised me was learning of the man pictured, Sheng Xuanhuai.
Sheng Xuanhau – business and statesman
Sheng orchestrated the industrialisation of China “actively advocating using Western technology in saving the country from destitution” pre 1900 – by 1893 controlled the China Merchants’ Steam Navigation Company, established the Imperial Telegraphy Administration, took over the Hangyang ironworks and related mines 1896, controlled the newly created imperial railway administration and in 1897 founded the Imperial Bank of China, the first Chinese bank modelled on Western banking system.
As the Qing dynasty survived until 1911/12, the ten year lead up was filled with uprisings and bitter fighting, mainly orchestrated by a man named Sun Yat Sen from a position of exile in Japan and then the United States.
As the records go, the Xinhai Revolution broke out at Wuchang on October, 10, 1911, bringing down the child emperor, Puyi, ending the imperial period of Chinese History.
From this, Sun Yat Sen was elected the “provisional president” of the new-born Republic of China, “However, the northern warlord Yuan Shi-kai had been promised the presidency if he could pressure the Puyi into formally abdicating the throne” – with Puyis abdication on February 12, 1912, Sun Yat-Sen stepped aside on March 10 to Yuan Shi-Kai, though it became apparent Shi-Kai was aiming at establishing a new imperial dynasty.
A legislative assembly was called in Beijing in May of 1912, evenly split between supporters of Sun Yat-Sen and Yuan Shi-Kai – at this event, Sun Yat-Sen’s allies formed the Nationalist movement named the Guomindang.
Unable to prevail at the ballot box, Sun “organised a force to challenge Yuan’s army of 80,000 though was unsuccessful, once more fleeing into exile in Japan.”
From here, Sun Yat-Sen “reached out to local and international communists” and drew in the burgeoning Communist Party of China (CPC)”.
With the help of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, a military academy was established and Chiang Kay-shek was appointed commandant of the new National Revolutionary Army and its training academy.
In short, with Sun Yat-Sen dying at 58, he brought together the Nationalist KMT and the Communist CPC, thus he is commemorated amongst both groups.
After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the Chinese Civil War resumed in 1946.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) led by Mao Tse Dong defeated the Guomindang Nationalists in 1949, where they fled to Taiwan and Chiang Kai-Shek led the country under a mix of martial law and aspirations to retake mainland China until his death in 1975.
Still with me?
From here, my understanding of two ‘major’ events have been front of mind regarding China.
Firstly “the Great Leap Forward” –
Wall script photographed July 2nd 2015 in historically protected village near Taihu Lake
– a national campaign of industrialisation undertaken from 1958 to 1960, which was a transition from rural farmers into backyard steel makers, a project that failed abysmally to make industrial grade steel and resulted in a massive proportion of the population to starve to death, some 20 million estimated by Britannica, between 1959 and 1962.
During this period, Mao Tse Dong was succeeded in 1959 as chairman of the People’s Republic by Liu Shaoqi, closely supported by Deng Xiaoping.
Deng Xiaoping would go on to teeter from leadership to the brink of exile and destruction throughout Mao’s ongoing years, until finally coming back to power and leadership of China after Mao’s passing.
From my time visiting China, a source revealed to me a precursor to the Cultural Revolution, of which my very limited understanding as the ‘second major event’ was an attempt to remove China’s dynastic roots through a collective attempt at book burning and symbol smashing, was a period of Liu Shaoqi focusing on introducing capitalist elements and pro-Western policies, which were considered very successful by most accounts.
It was this trajectory towards Western ideals that compelled Mao to play what I now understand as the most effective game of deadly political chess likely to have ensued throughout human history.
By closing schools nationally and tasking the youth with ‘taking the currently party leaders to task for their embrace of bourgeois values and lack of revolutionary spirit’ (Cultural Revolution, 2009), they went on to form paramilitary groups called the Red Guard, attacking China’s elderly and intellectual population.
During this period, Lin Bao was elected president after the youth movement jailed Liu Shaoqi and many other leaders, Shaoqi dying in prison in 1969.
As several cities in China drew close to ‘the brink of anarchy by September 1967’ – Mao had Lin Bao ordered the army to quell the Red Guard and drove the urban members into rural locations where the movement declined.
With Lin designated Mao’s successor, he implemented martial law in response to a situation of border clashes with Soviet troops. This demonstration of a “premature power grab … disturbed Mao” (Cultural Revolution, 2009) and with the help of a gent named Zhou Enlai, China’s premier, Mao split the ranks of the Chinese Government. Lin died in an airplane crash in September 1971, apparently attempting to escape to the Soviet Union, from which Zhou took greater control of the government.
From here Zhou revived the Chinese educational system and “brought numerous former officials to power”. Being diagnosed with cancer in 1972, the same year Mao had a stroke, both leaders put their support behind Deng Xiaoping, who struggled against a group known as the Gang of Four.
The Gang of Four “convinced Mao to purge Deng in April 1976, a few months after Zhou’s death, but after Mao died that September, a civil, police and military coalition pushed the Gang of Four out.”
In 1977 Deng regained power, maintaining control over the government for the next 20 years.
Remember our professor of recent discussion? He proposed an update to the model of Guanxi, saying the true effect of the Cultural Revolution and the one child policy was a revolution of values, from that of a collectivist society to one of deeply ingrained distrust, class struggle that ripped out any links and left survival of the self above all others.
A troubled diagnosis
The legacy of the Cultural Revolution was further explained to me in that having a rationale for discussion was not required – simply a reason was enough for conflict. ‘This person must be brought down’ – ‘why?’ ‘because they …’ – the reason does not need logical underpinning, it exists because it is spoken. Several days after first hearing this, I had a discussion translated to me about a record low number of enrollments for medical students.
The first side to this is that nursing staff in China take care of a patient’s medical care, in the sense of administrative functions and provision of the treatment plan the doctor sees fit.
In relation to patient care in a general sense; preparing food and eating, bathing, getting to the toilet, the general day to day personal requirements that Australian nursing staff facilitate entirely – these are taken care of by a family member or private nurse brought in to support the person in hospital.
Now back to our reason vs rationale, I was told that doctors are being attacked and sometimes even killed by family members of patients that do not survive their treatment, irrespective of the nature of injury or the likelihood of survival. If Doctors are unable to ‘cure’ a patient, the result of their inability is seen genuinely as a life or death situation, not for their patient but for themselves.
How widespread this is or to what percentage of the population it applies I have no idea, though it was of concern and merited discussion amongst people I consider to have a sizeable perspective and equivalent responsibility to handle civil matters for the citizens of China.
Hukou AKA Change your university, change your life
I was advised Chinese high school education focused absolutely 0% on work skills, the singular aim was gaining a high mark to access universities. Gaining entry to a university brought with it legal geographic transition from your place of birth to the University.
Case in point, one of our travelling companions came from a district of 41 million people, to which 90 students annually were accepted to enter Fudan University and therefore legal transit to Shanghai.
“Hukou” is ‘a Household Registration system to control the movement of people between urban and rural areas’ – implemented in 1958 by the Communist party, though Wikipedia has it that “Family registers were in existence in China as early as the Xia Dynasty (c. 2100 BCE – 1600)”
As far as I can find, “On December 4, 2014 the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council released for public comment a draft residence permit regulation proposing to abolish the hukou system in small cities and towns, while retaining substantial restrictions in large metropolitan areas, and gradually easing restrictions in medium-sized cities.” (State Council Releases Hukou Reform Proposal, 2014)
Speaking of celebration, what do you think is going on below?
It’s not The Voice: China, it is in fact the graduating ceremony for University students, where the best 65-70 academic performers are presented in full formal attire, do laps of the red carpet and then get interviewed on stage across three to four hours, whilst singing and dancing for their graduating year.
It is essentially a celebration of the highest achievers, the attendee who took the above photos, admitting to me he shed a tear hearing how strong was the commitment and journey these fledgling adults had gone through to that point.
Flirting, love and children
The one child policy is being said to lessen in its restriction, though for Government officials – party members – a second child will result in the loss of employment. Additionally, it is possible to pay the fine should you have a second child – whilst money can’t buy you love, it can pay for the kids.
On the topic of love, did you know the Chinese don’t know how to flirt? Or for those that do, they aren’t doing it in China. It seems public displays of affection – to make eyes at someone, to initiate a romantic engagement – these are not done and therefore never practiced – the display would be seen as disgraceful.
In the case of our tour leader, he sang a song for his future wife and that was that. As marriage goes, a cohort of young Chinese ladies expressed the factors they go for as wealth. The very first step itself is that for a man in China to marry, he must provide a house (apartment) and car for her, in which case her parents will pay for the wedding and furnish the apartment.
For the poorer males in society “Many Of China’s Bachelors Can’t Afford To Get Married” (International Business Times, 2014).
The 50 cent club
Artwork at 50 Moganshan Road or “M50” a contemporary art district in Shanghai, China
Deep in the heart of the M50 art district, a centre piece of ex-industrial manufacturing turned into an emerging and established artist residence of Shanghai, a new character in the Mandarin language was growing in popularity.
It represented ’50 cents’ or half a yuan, said to be the cost of every single message put to the internet, in order for the central government to monitor and where they feel necessary, delete or ‘adjust’ the communication.
According to researchers at Harvard University “..an estimated 250,000 to 300,000” carry out the work whilst “The size and sophistication of the Chinese government’s program to selectively censor the … views of the Chinese people is unprecedented in recorded world history” (Censored, 2013).
Click to view ABC’s Hungry Beast episode “The Great Firewall of China”
The Magic Bus(es)
Another element of China is that in-person protesting is illegal. Visiting the Shanghai Planning Exhibition, a genuinely wonderful show of urban development and growth, our guide asked us to avoid taking any printed material on the street as a large police presence with lines of empty coaches were at the ready, waiting to separate groups and transport individuals.
Shanghai planning exhibition
The other side of the coin
Before you give a quick snort and talk up the benefits of democracy, Australia has recently passed a raft of legislation that puts us behind a similar monitoring platform and beyond that, every developed nation is participating in monitoring that unless you have sat and watched Citizenfour, a film I put as required information for people of the world, or work directly in a national security office, you likely have no idea about.
Unfortunately advertised as ‘Edward Snowden’ the man, it is a story about societies and individuals, bringing investigation and damning revelations to government monitoring in all first world nations – https://citizenfourfilm.com
Creating Great Empires
During an evening meal I was taken through (by a member) how the Communist Party of China selects students at 15 years old that show high intellect, supports them through school and into junior roles of Government.
From here they are tasked with working in and then governing poorer regional areas without any knowledge of ongoing promotion. This enables people to prove themselves as ‘for the people’ rather than the office.
Those who shown merit are transferred to Beijing and sent around the world to study finance, industry and technology, town planning, science, essentially the best the world has to offer before coming back to China.
A balancing act exists as such, apparently a recent edict for some in government of a certain age who had not been promoted was that they were to stay in their positions, ensuring the future leaders of the party were in the prime of their ‘leadership lives’.
The nature of China is Communist Party officials move lockstep with vast amounts of industry, a party official being the over-riding force above every CEO for state-owned companies.
During our visit to COFCO, the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation, a truly immense organisation – I enquired as to gender equality amongst senior management and was pleased to find out the CPC member was female that worked next to the COFCO CEO.
Mutianyu – Great Wall of China – photographed June 25th 2015
Industrial Ghosts & the New World
Inside Canal 5 Creative Campus, Changzhou, Photographed July 4th, 2015
During my travels I was very privileged to attend a dinner with the Congress Chairman of one of the Districts North West of Shanghai. I posed him two questions, to which he answered as being given mandates from the Central Committee;
Q. What is your biggest imperative?
A. Supporting entrepreneurship to transition our legacy manufacturing and industrial capacities into new businesses and services.
Q. What is the biggest obstacle to that?
A. Changing the culture to be one of long-term creation rather than replication and cheaper for the short term
View across Huangpu River, Shanghai
The longevity of crane and pine
Visiting the Song He Lou restaurant was a treat, one of many in China, this one with over 200 years of history since its establishment. In its name, I analogise the nuance of the Chinese perspective in that Song He Lou ( 松 鹤 楼 ) comprises the characters of Crane and Pine – these together mean long-life, thus, two separate things combine to have a higher meaning.
“.. Three principles are at the heart of the Chinese idea of The Middle Way. The first is change. Reality is seen as constantly evolving, so there is an endless need to adapt. The second is the principle of contradiction, or paradox. Change continuously creates oppositions and paradoxes: old and new, strong and weak, dark and light, good and bad. These can exist in everything. But opposites need not clash and undermine each other. They can complement and complete each other. The third principle is relationship. Nothing exists in isolation. There is always a network of complex connections and linkages among things, issues, events and people.” (Byrne, 2013)
..seeing the Silicon Valley of the East in Suzhou with 26 universities in their Higher Education Town, commenced 12 years ago and 90% complete – the dedicated Nano-tech and Nano-Bionics laboratories, turning Shanghai into the ‘New York of Asia’, the $8 AUD 400 kph airport train that takes 7 minutes past the GE Factory?
I see a giant, unfurling it’s intellectual and human capacities to grip the systems of Western consumption with a fury unimaginable in its entirety. The costs of this process are already known to us, so how will China develop to balance the goals of capitalism with the requirements of a healthy society and planet?
Baosteel 2 kilometre long Hot Rolling Mill – photographed June 30, 2015 able to produce over 6 million tons of hot-rolled strip per year
View from Tianning Temple, Changzhou, photographed July 4th 2015
Chang, Iris 1997, The Rape of Nanking, Basic Books USA
Byrne, Margaret 2013, Business Success in the Asian Century, UGM Sydney
The Victorian Employer’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) run the Victoria Jiangsu Business Placement (VJBP) program which they describe as “supporting your China strategy by giving you first-hand insight into what successful businesses are undertaking and achieving in China. It is a state-based program developed by the VECCI in collaboration with the Jiangsu Federation of Industry of Commerce with support from the Victorian Government and City of Melbourne“
I recently filmed and produced a short summation video of their participants have a watch and if China is on your radar, consider getting in touch with www.vecci.org.au.