Olympics 2008

The Olympic development in Beijing may be about to face its toughest challenge yet. Sun Ruoyu, a 55 year old bakery owner in Qianmen District is refusing to move out of her home to make way for a ‘beautification’ project.


Her home and business is now the only building left on what used to be a busy row of shops. All the others have been demolished and replaced with new grass lawns and saplings. The bakery opened by Sun’s family in the 1840’s and has been on Beijing’s demolition list since Monday 6th August.

A bulldozer arrived at Sun’s house on Wednesday 8th August; however, Sun resisted the demolition by climbing onto the vehicle and shouting at the driver. The family has been offered about 1.6 million RMB (approx US$ 200,000). Sun claims that this is not enough and has refused the offer. With such a low offer Sun claims that she won’t be able to afford to buy an apartment in Qianmen District after it is redeveloped to what is sure to become one of Beijing’s priciest neighbourhoods.

Sometimes, I really doubt, if entries posted by users in our events section really have something to do with China. This time, I decided not to delete the entry of a swimming school in Cologne (Germany) because there is a flood in South China.

Nostalgic Trips in China – you really should think twice before deciding to go back to a place, which is connected with some memories and you have not visited for a few years in China – often you will be disappointed. Cities in China change very fast and many buildings are demolished and replaced by big department stores or office buildings.

8 years ago, I studied Chinese for one year in Hangzhou and recently I visited this city for the first time since then. I expected that the city probably changed but when I arrived, I was really surprised about the dimension of the changes.

First, the good news

  • the famous west lake does still exist
  • the old woman opposite xixi-campus of the Zhejiang University (still called Hangzhou University during my stay in Hangzhou) still sold telephone cards at exactly the same place.
  • the old supermarket at xixilu does still exist
  • and the paradise club in Hangzhou still exists (okay, I have not been there so often, but this club was the meeting point of foreigners at weekends – now there are a lot of more western style bars in Hangzhou)

Hangzhou changed a lot during the last few years; the best way to prove this is to count the number of McDonald’s and also the number of new restaurants, clubs and hotels at the west lake.
The students’ dormitory in xixi campus is knocked down (it was very old already, when I lived there). The Hangda Lu, which used to be full of small rundown restaurants, is full of modern department stores and office buildings.
In spite of all those changes and the development of the Westlake area – Hangzhou is still a place you should visit if you plan to travel through China.

Businessmen working in China often have to make decisions, which company or service provider they should trust. They need the advice of partners (lawyers, web designers, marketing experts, accountants …) to start and operate their business in China and often (especially if they try to save money and go for the cheapest solution), it is just a matter of coincidence, if they end up with the right partner – even more so, if they have no experience in the business field of their partner or service provider.

  • Meet with your partner companies in person and better visit their office.
  • Always check your partner companies. Do they have references (on their websites for example)? It is worth the effort to get in contact with one of their clients. Well known companies with many references are often more expensive – but if they provide better service and especially, if they have proven experience, it is worth paying more to get a reliable company.
  • Check, how long your future partner company has been doing business in China (if the company is new, check for the experience of the directors of the company – often you can find background information on websites like xing.com or linkedin.com)
  • Do some research in the internet. Often you find information in online forums, especially if people are not happy with the services, they tend to complain in public forums (but of course, entries in public forums are not really reliable).
  • Listen to recommendations! Ask your friends and business partners for advice and their experience.

Recently, I found an excellent website, which screens and recommends experienced managers in China.


They pay attention to quality instead of quantity. I know two of the recommended managers in person, so the site seems to be a very useful resource. I hope, they will continue developing it.

One never finishes learning. A lesson I learned during the last networking-event I visited here in China: Never give your business card with your mobile phone number to the represantative of a business-club. In China, you will receive lots of spam SMS with invitations to parties or events. And there advertisment text is usually quite long, so you always will receive 5 messages at the time.

I guess, I have to print special business cards without my mobile phone number for this kind of contacts.

It seems, that at least in Beijing, it is not so easy anymore to extend your F-Visa. Until now, it was never a problem to extend it for another 6 month, now a few people I know had problems even getting a 3 month extension.

Probably, teh guidelines changed, because the Chinese government wants more control because of the Olympic Games next year or maybe more control over foreigner coming to China with an F-Visa and working here without a proper working permission.

If I build up a website, I make it user friendly but also search engine friendly. The goal is to get

a) visitors
b) make the visitors becoming real customers

A few days ago, I had a meeting with a potential client about their website. It seems, that they invested some time and money in building it up, it was a website with great flash animations, I really liked the design
There where just a few problems

  1. The website was 100% in flash, which means, not very search engine friendly. If you make a flash website, at least the text should be in normal HTML. You can use flash animations for websites, but if you really want to get customers with this website and want to be found in search engines, do not make the website 100% in flash.
  2. The target group where foreign customers, the website was hosted in Hong Kong. From Germany, it took about one minute for each page to load, because each time, the browser had to load some flash animations again. Even if they use adwords for this site, I don’t think, many customers (with a very fast DSL-connection) are patient enough to find the contact information.
  3. The funniest thing was, that to load the flash design on the main page, the graphic designer used java script. Search engines can not follow java script links, which means, for search engines, the website had no content at all. When I turned off java script to demonstrate, how google sees this website, the result was an empty white screen and the marketing director of the company was not very pleased, about this, I think.

Anyway, the graphic designer did a great job, the website looked great, but I think, the company can only use it as addition to their offline marketing material like flyers, namecards, but for sure, nobody will find this website with search engines (allthough, the client told me, that this was the goal of the website). Even if they use paid advertisment, to get visitors, I do not believe, that they will get many inquiries. To be successful, they actually have to rebuild the whole website.

Having your office in a new office building is somehow nice and there are a lot of new office buildings in Beijing. But if you are one of the first companies there, some things might not work in a perfect way, but a professional property management should take care of everything.

But still, as foreign company, you should think twice, before you rent an office in a building, when you are the first foreign company to register there. The owner or property manager of the building probably never heard about the papers you need to register your WFOE and they are quite annoyed and sometimes not really willing to cooperate to provide you with the necessary documents.

Especially for small and middle sized enterprises, it is better to move into a building with other foreign companies anyway (e.g. SOHO in Beijing). Not only because of the western toilets in office buildings aiming on foreign companies but also because of opportunities to get in contact with other foreign companis for later cooperations.


People, who want to volunteer for the Olympic Games 2008 can find information and apply on the website above.


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