Belgian Chocolate

A World of Contradictions

The Big Chinese Contradiction

21 October 2014 by Christophe Morneau

This is a post I wanted to make for a long time, to tell you about some of my experience within one of the biggest contradictions in the world, yet still a relatively small consumer of chocolates compared to Europe.. indeed, The People’s Republic of China.

I have visited this country on several occations, sometimes on business trips and sometimes for leisure. But what strikes me is the unexpected tendency to always come back to this place. In fact, just now as I am writing this I am in my gorgeous hotel room in the capital city of Beijing. This time like all the other times, my visit here is completele a surprise. I was simply called upon, and as soon as I heard the calling I did not hesitate to fly over and come and see again, what’s up in China. The business here is booming, in such a huge degree that a lot of these guys need help. Especially when it comes to management. Skill is what the Chinese excell in, and on the manager level it’s more difficult to find reliable staff. So, they call the experts in such as myself to advice them on issues of trading, dealing with other countries as well as when flexible enough I am consulted about internal issues that only relate to the nation itself.

Emerging China

On latest news, many of you might have heard about the crackdown on Google only recently in the whole of the country. For years, the Chinese could access Google almost as normal citizens, with the occational disruptions in service of course. But now it looks like the disruption is one of a very long term decision. It also reveals a lot about what the Chinese government is going through right now. While this might have come as a surprise for some, for me, it was not such a big thing. Afterall, all one must do is to grab a Good China VPN and hop over the notorious Great Firewall as one pleases. But this was not the case a year back, when there was a big meeting in Beijing and even the VPN connections were blocked. I remember trying to get access and in all it’s authenticity, for the first time experienced what it was like not to be able to access Google and ALL it’s services. While this is luckily not the case at the moment, i can change at any moment as well.

When most VPN server were blocked, this was like a great experiment. We could see, what they were capable off. I remember one particular VPN server, combating with the issue and trying to find other ways around it. And ways they found, several in fact. So in one way, that ban kind of bloomed another industry of “beyond VPN” goers. On the other side, when this happens it’s difficult to get the message across. So in mostly these kinds of expriements are very effective indeed.

Yet, companies are allowed VPN access while for normal citizens it remains illegal. It is, because in truth a modern China cannot survive without a company like Google. But what the government is doing right now, is pushing the breaks more and more, in order to create a gap within society. Those who are privliged, and those who are the more unfortunate ordinary citizens. With all the commerciality and modernity that China has been through, this very divition is the foundations. And when things go wrong, this is the direction where they are headed more or less. It really tells you in the face, what kind of situation they are in now. Change is inevitable but the direction can be altered in tremendously effective ways!

I’ve just booked my tickets, and I am on my way to watch a famous show called “The Golden Mask Dynasty” at the Happy Valley in Beijing. While I am preparing for my evening together with my Chinese colleagues I cannot help to feel like I am just about anywhere else having a business meeting and going to watch a show of sorts. But if something I have learned, is that when things feel so ordinary that in fact it is almost a strange feeling. When everything falls into such category as “normal”, in a country like this. You know, that there is a lot going on behind the scenes.

Sometimes it feels like a theatre performance, you go and watch the show which symbolises the outer shell, the external appearance of things. While you watch, you converse with your clients and just as the performance, if you are able to look behind the wardrobes you can see a whole different world. That’s why being able to speak Chinese is essential, to which I don’t have the capability of doing so. But I always find out something that was not intended for me to find out. The mystery of The Golden Mask is a symbol of how the ancient dynasty operated is not far from todays world. You simply need to understand the history, rules and customs.. it is not a very difficult thing. In fact, in the great dynasties before us it was more difficult. Everything is so founded and based in these origins that people tend to copy each other more. Just learn the language of behavior for each country and different business situation and you can really start to experience the performance that is infact, right before you.

Sorry for speaking in such cryptic tones at times, but it is often the only way.. leaving those who think for themselves ahead of the game. And what I can say for sure, is that Chocolate will become a huge product in China for the future. It’s a good time to prepare, for all of us.

I’m going to have a great show tonight at the OCT Theatre and I have no idea what to expect. Such is life!

Regards from Beijing,
Christophe Morneau

PS. Next time, see you in Belgium.

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