East Meats West

Radisson Hotel in Shanghai is situated by People’s Square where the West and East Nanjing Road meet. From my room at the 28th floor I had a good view of the Renmin Park and of the neon-clad skyscrapers downtown. Despite the abundance of Chinese restaurants I opted for a safe bet, or so I thought, by entering a Pizza Hut. However, market adjustment is always important and obviously Asian customers are more frequent than European ones why it was hard to find some really nice vegetarian food.

Everywhere in the Shanghai region you find advertising for the EXPO 2010. In flower arrangements, in the special stores selling all kinds of goods wearing the EXPO logo and mascot, at the museums, with the street merchants, on posters and so on. Almost 200 countries will participate in this expo that perhaps will be the biggest event ever arranged on earth so far. The location of the expo area is excellent, rather close to the city centre and at the river.

I visited a presentation of the Finnish pavilion and they estimate that it will host 20.000 visitors each day during the six months of the EXPO. In total, 70 million visitors are expected at the EXPO. No wonder all countries are trying to figure out how to make most out of this meeting place, and how to create good business with the Chinese hosts.

Swedish companies have been present in China for quite some time. First the big international corporation started production here. Then came their suppliers wanting to be near their customers. Although service-oriented companies are becoming more frequent, about 80% of the business is still oriented towards sourcing. However, the structure of business is slowly changing, partly because of new demands in relation to Corporate Social Responsibility issues. The Sino-Swedish CSR Cooperation is therefore especially well positioned in time as is the new Sino-Swedish Sustainable Business Program in Shanghai.

I very much hope to go to the EXPO next year. The Swedish pavilion looks exciting and I believe the program will be very interesting too, especially the seminars in the neighbouring regions. Maybe by then I will have read “Where East Eats West: The Street-Smarts Guide to Business in China. Although I’d better practice using chopsticks...

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