New Managers And Young Entrepreneurs For China’s Relaunch

After more than 30 years, the Chinese development model is beginning to show its age. A normal event, perhaps the most extraordinary part is that it didn’t happen until now. The economy is slowing down, consumption isn’t growing, and the domestic market seems trapped in a whirlwind of investments that is causing exponential growth in supply of manufactured goods. Moreover, the country has not been able to project a reassuring image to the world. China’s ascension was more endured than managed, as if Beijing’s model was actually the result of national interests masquerading as globalization, and not the herald of universal values. China’s leadership knows this aspect well. The diffusion of a new “soft power” is instrumental, concentrating on the Pacific rise in an attempt to calm Washington, neighboring countries, and overall international opinion, but recent attempts have been futile. China has been increasingly involved in embarrassing and disconcerting controversies. Paradoxically, foreign governments are enjoying good relations with Beijing, perhaps not outstanding, but still oriented towards fruitful collaboration for everyone. It’s a strong sign of China’s indispensability. Missing instead is the social element, the kind of prestige that can bring better styles of life, the success of products and fashion, the kind of charm that should be evoked by a country with China’s history and culture. The common perception is instead of a country clinging to its diversity, just when it should be getting itself more involved in the international arena. This perception of China has been deteriorating, but the economy has the power to change this trend. Foreign investment can earn benevolence, exporting China’s younger, more dynamic side, open to a more contemporary China. Thousands of young entrepreneurs can be groomed to venture abroad, not just to gather resources, delocalize towards countries with plentiful labor, or find more agricultural terrain; a managerial class is emerging after years of study and apprenticeship. It is familiar with finance, is fluent in English, and is comfortable in international assemblies and board meetings. They are often able to combine corporate requirements with the social responsibilities of the company. They are conscious of environmental impact and the dignity of labor. By virtue of their intellectual structure and direct experience, they are far from the giant state-owned enterprises, from predatory capitalism, from indifference towards local affairs. China can draw intellectual and material resources from these new elements. Upon them, China can establish more extensive and respected international cooperation, with an eye on the books as much as on respectability. Too often China has entrusted itself to political delegations to dialogue with other countries, without reaching the hearts and minds of the best people.