Christmas Blessings from Shenzhen

Balding's World

Since I spend so much of time talking about the failures of Chinese economic and financial policies, data fraud, and some of the other negative aspects, I wanted to spend a small amount of time at Christmas talking about why I have lived in China for almost nine years. I think I criticize Chinese policy for fair and valid reasons, but I have lived here for nine years and am thankful for that opportunity.

  1. I think Tyler Cowen has it right when he says China is the story of the globe right now and for the foreseeable future and I get a front row seat with popcorn. Longer I’ve lived here and delved into what happens in China, more I’ve come to appreciate that China analysts who drop by for a week once a year simply do not have the depth of understanding. There are some smart people that fall into this category, but it is truly the difference between reading a physics text book and being in the lab running those experiments.  I have a colleague that said it well once “China can drive you crazy but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.”
  2. You get to meet amazing people doing all kinds of amazing things. From young Chinese students to foreign expats, there is a buzz in southern China that any and everything is possible. People believe industries that do not currently exist can be huge in a few years.  Things that do not exist can be created out of nothing.  There are potential downsides to this attitude, but it is invigorating that so many people talk about a vision they see of where they want to go and want to achieve.  When I visit the US I see a lot more of the Tyler Cowen complacent class and complaining.  The mood in the US has been sour for a long time, while in China there is talk about what people can accomplish and create. Yes, some of that is state media influence for sure but a lot of that is the broader mood. Yes, there are accompanying problems like the blindness to risk and other issues, but it is invigorating and you do get to see all kinds of amazing things and meet amazing people
  3. My family has been blessed with wonderful friends foreign and Chinese and schools that have made Shenzhen a great place to live. I always tell people Shenzhen is the best major city in China to live.  So many people that do not live in Shenzhen have never been here are shocked at my assertion but it is true.  In addition to being a very comfortable city to live, especially compared to Beijing or Shanghai, the entire vibe and culture of the city is radically different.  Shenzhen is an immigrant city where everyone is thrown together.  Consequently, I find people all over the city much more welcoming, open, and friendly.  My kids have made friends with their classmates and their parents have always been willing to help the foreigner Mom and Dad who really have no idea what is going on.  I know we will never really be accepted as foreigners in China with a constant wall between Chinese and foreigners, but we are thankful for the friendship of a variety of people for ourselves and our children.
  4. I suspect 2018 is going to be a year of change but just a couple things from me. First, I have started working on a book about China which I hope to have finished by June or so. I’m excited about this book as it explores new areas and ideas.  With all the different outlets for writing, I stay pretty active but when this idea and how to structure it landed, I decided I had to go ahead and write a book.  It is about China and in the business/finance/economics realm, but definitely goes into new areas in ways that I do not believe have been explored really by myself or others. No idea on a release date yet, but the book is on target to be finished about the end of Q2.  Second, I have a big project announcement date set for some time probably in March.  Trust me this is going to be very cool and something I’ve been working on for a while. I can also tell you, it will be nothing you are expecting. Hopefully will be ready to announce in March, but this is something you will never guess but will be very cool.

In this period of hope, peace, and joy, I sincerely hope your world and the world we live in is filled with more of both in 2018.