As it turns out, there is much more to our China journey than the show (IS China 2006) in Shanghai.

I for one have underestimated the progress the Chinese government and people have made towards modernizing their country while preserving an incredibly complex and intellectual history and culture. I think we need to partner with their society because we will benefit as much or more than they will by a close and co-operative future.

Yes, I saw some problems with pollution and traffic … some big problems! But I also saw awareness and confidence in solutions. The Chinese Government has the privilege of making all encompassing decisions without a long debate when it comes to facing these problems. Will they make the right choices? Only time will tell. Let’s be optimistic and hope they do. Most of the local people that I met are indeed optimistic about their future.

Shanghai is the most modern city I have ever seen … and it’s only half complete. I was told that 25% of all the construction cranes in the world are currently in use there. (I have no facts to back this up but believe me when I say there are a bunch of cranes dotting the skyline). Their goal is to finish this phase by 2010 for the Worlds Fair that is scheduled then. Beijing on the other hand is in the middle of rebuilding and refurbishing many of their historical buildings in time for the 2008 Olympic Games. WOW!

OK, how does this all affect our readers and colleagues?

HOMETOYS – Home Technology

IS China 2006 was focused on commercial and industrial product categories since that is where the action is at this time. It may still be a bit early for the emerging middle class to afford Home Technology products … but they do want them and they will want them more and more in the future.

I think the biggest potential market for the near future may be condos and apartment buildings. In Shanghai for example they are building monstrous towers and tearing down old neighborhoods in huge numbers. A good example of the potential demand is that every hotel room that I stayed in throughout our 2 week visit (business class hotels) had automated lighting, call lights and TV control at the bedside. Some of it was old technology by our standards but the point is … they seem to want automation … now! It also appears that they will find one solution and replicate it millions of times so the first ones in are going to take the risks but may benefit by being part of the replication process.

EARTHTOYS – Alternative Energy

The Chinese Government has already taken some steps to fix the pollution and energy problems. In all the cities I visited (6 in all), they have banned gas powered motorcycles and allow only pedal and electric powered scooters and bikes. This is not a small number … in fact it’s huge. In addition Beijing has converted all buses and I think many cabs to natural gas. What’s next … I think solutions like the Smart Car are a natural next step as the population demands personal transportation options. Of course they are also focused on mass transit solutions such as the MagLev train that currently runs between Shanghai Airport and Downtown (8 minutes reaching 430 as opposed to one hour in a huge traffic jam).

The system is expanding and will eventually connect Shanghai and Beijing plus other major cities.

A visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall reveals the full extent of the city planning which includes many green and alternative energy solutions. As I said, they are virtually rebuilding the city and upgrading the lifestyle and standard of living of it’s 17 million citizens.

A recent press release from one of our supporters spells out some of the opportunities in the PV industry alone. SUCCESSFUL PV BUSINESS TOUR CHINA

IS China 2006

As I said, the show itself was focused on commercial and industrial applications such as multi window projections systems and screens etc. Most of my time was spent discussing the general outlook of the marketplace as viewed by some of the western representatives at the show. It’s still a very young show and various ideas were mentioned as to how it should grow in the future. I get the impression that this is still a new concept for Chinese business and I’m confident that it will evolve to be effective and yet different from the North American and European Trade Show versions.

All in all … I can only say that we all need to open our eyes to the reality of the global marketplace and seek partnerships with Chinese business. I have never felt more welcome as a foreigner in any country that I have previously visited. China is undoubtedly becoming one of the most powerful economic forces on the globe. Do you want to be a partner or a competitor? It’s your choice!