Jeff Meitler here!
A reflective comparison of China and the USA:
– Anyone in China can become an American, but an American cannot become Chinese
– Chinese history is 20x older than America’s
– Chinese don’t view themselves as an “emerging” economy but a “re-emerging” economy
– Chinese have distinctly more modern lights (all LED), movie theaters (all digital), and buildings (just look at them) than the US
– The American social gap between the rich and poor is separated very distinctly by where they are living, but in China the rich and poor live on top of each other (almost literally)
– China has 4x the amount of people as the USA while the countries are roughly a similar size
– China has 160 cities with a population over 1 million while the USA has 9
– China has about 300 million drivers (244 of which are licensed) and 154 million private autos while the USA has 212 million licensed drivers and 240 million private autos (http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2014/11/28/china-soon-to-have-almost-as-many-drivers-as-u-s-has-people/)
– Running in China I could cross almost any road at any time with minimal fear of getting hit, in the USA I have to wait for huge gaps in traffic to cross
– People really don’t go out running in China
– China has more billionaires than any other country in the world
– Chinese citizens cannot own guns and are perplexed by our use of them
– Both Chinese and American people are generally proud of their nation and heritage
– Both Chinese and American people have tendencies towards idolizing wealth and sex
What I learned:
– Businesses don’t go to China for the cheap labor as much as they go for the huge growing market
– Chinese Christians do not hide their faith nearly as much as I thought they would
– Jesus is just as powerful in China as in the USA
– The USA is just as sinful and broken as China
Hopefully this list format helps you to understand some of the similarities and differences of China and the USA. There is so much to know. My biggest takeaway was that we are just as in need of a savior as the Chinese. I always knew that Christ came to save the entire world, but actually seeing another part of it gave me a better glimpse into just how big and complicated this world is and how much bigger and stronger our God is.
Pray that God would soften our American hearts towards the Chinese so that we can see that they have many of the same problems we do and need a Savior just as much as we do.
I have added a few pictures of churches we visited and one of my favorite runs in Xiamen! Thanks for reading!
Jeff Meitler Posting:
It is only our second day in Xiamen, but we are already falling in love with it! We are here to visit a few more interesting businesses but it turns out that Xiamen is a popular tourist attraction for the Chinese, and for good reason! We are staying at Xiamen University which has provided an interesting perspective into university life for Chinese students. English is spoken by many people and oftentimes students are eager to practice so they take every opportunity to talk to us (which is very helpful when we are lost or looking for good places to eat). Along with the university, which is actually a popular tourist destination, there are beaches, forts, gardens, foothills, and islands to be explored.
We took a break from all of the “cultural engagement” to visit a few companies in the area as well. The company we visited was owned by Americans and made web-converting process equipment sold all over the world. These expensive machines were very interesting (particularly to the engineers) and have many more uses than we ever thought could exist. The manager, John, appreciated our visit as they had never had more than a few visitors at a time before.
The biggest takeaway I had was this: Technical knowledge comes at a premium anywhere in the world, and purchasing, manufacturing, assembling, selling, and maintaining these machines takes a vast amount of technical knowledge. John described the challenges of finding quality employees even in a country as populous as China. Retaining their best employees is essential to their success, proving that the notion of China as a “cheap labor” country is no longer as true as it once was. So why are they here? The penetrate the Chinese market they need a location in China, and that is was this provides. Lower shipping costs and local customer service are invaluable assets for them.
All in all our visit was excellent. We learned about another unique business and understood (or at least tried to understand) the inner workings of machines that make products we use every day. We are now off to a few more company visits, then Hong Kong!
I have added a few pictures for your enjoyment!
Today was a great day as we began the class and business part of our trip to Beijing. We started in the morning with a talk about Chinese Christianity from a missionary in China. We all learned a lot about not only the history of China, but also how Christianity has been a part of that. We talked about the house churches and learned how some of our stereotypes that we have of them in America are not true. It was awesome to talk to her about the differences between Chinese and American churches, and also relate that to the church we worshiped at the day before.
We then got on the bus a few hours later and headed to the Yale Beijing Center. We learned a lot about the downtown and business side of Beijing by just being there. They set us up in a very new and nice conference room on the 35th floor, and we were all amazed by the view. The buildings were endless everywhere you looked and eventually got lost in the smog.
We talked to the director of Chinese operations for an agricultural company. He was a very personable and intelligent man, and I think we could all say that we learned a lot in the couple of hours we spent in Q&A with him. It was interesting to begin to learn about the different struggles of doing business in China, and also the advantages.
We then headed to a group dinner at a delicious restaurant. Because it was Courtney’s birthday the day before we were able to celebrate that with a cake and sing to her as a group, which was a highlight. We are excited for our last day in Beijing tomorrow and then head to our next city!
This post is a couple days late due to technical issues… but here we are in Beijing! After two delays and a grand total of 15 hours in the air, we are really excited to start our adventures in China. Our guide greeted us at the airport to escort us to our hotel via bus. Even though we were so exhausted she kept us engaged with… her very own rendition of the Titanic soundtrack and some quick facts about the city of Beijing. Needless to say she was adorable.
We arrived at our hotel at 7:30pm Beijing time, which is 13 hours ahead of those in Grand Rapids (good luck trying to Skype us with that time difference!). We quickly turned around and headed back out to the subway station to see the city. Our eyes glazed over the characters as we tried to figure out which stop would bring us to a really neat night market, but thankfully many gifted navigators in our group helped us get to where we wanted to go.
We knew we had made it to the night market when we reached an alleyway between two buildings. It was as if we had went back in time, the market was full of red lanterns, gold trimming, and Chinese people screaming at you to eat their fresh traditional food. The two of us tried scorpions, starfish, squid, and dumplings, none of which were a disappointment! We’re realizing how different of a culture it is here, and we’re so excited to dig deeper in these next three weeks!
Xoxo Stacey Kamp and Alex Kibbie