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Letter from Shanghai: When you're Living on China Speed, no Time for Slow TV.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Friday, 24th January 2014

It’s a beautiful wintry morning; I am on the top floor of the Shangri-La Jing An overlooking an amazing city that never ceases to astound me.

Shanghai’s put on her best face for me these last three days – crisp air, blue skies – rare days, my Shanghainese friends tell me and so they are out there making the best of it.

At the next table to me, a business meeting is taking place between a European man and three Chinese, one of whom is a woman. He’s talking about his business, outlining his plans to bring it to China. In the middle of his rather long discourse, the Chinese woman interrupts him and asks, “What’s your point?”

She is clearly American-educated and believes in getting to the point and she is one of a growing breed of Shanghainese, who were all educated abroad, US primarily, and have returned to their homeland of opportunity to be part of this century’s new gold rush.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryIn contrast, yesterday, I was part of a conversation in a government office that took a long time to get to the point – actually I don’t think it ever got to the point. But that’s the whole point, I understand, of these meetings. In these “dance of diplomacy” meetings, you’re not meant to get to the point and the most important thing to remember is what five things did the top official say to conclude the meeting.

That’s the point, so I am told. I found it fascinating the contrast between these two conversations. One, the language of entrepreneurship and believe me, Shanghai’s entrepreneurs are among the smartest and wiliest anywhere and two, the language of official-dom where there’s still a great deal of protocol – however I hear even that’s about to change as a new generation of leaders steps in.

In the news, a Chinese travel agency, Dexo Travel, has signed an agreement with a Netherlands-based space tourism firm Space Expedition Corporation to sell space trips to Chinese travellers – at 1.35 million yuan (about US$220,000) a seat, these trips will come onto the market by year end.

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