Changsha - a window into the future

With good friends, Christopher Wright (China Country Manager for Austrade and Mission Leader) and Michael Wadley (Head of China Practice, Blake Dawson) on the bus in Changsha

Another Chinese city and another spanking new airport! This one, in the city Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, was officially opened only two weeks ago (not just because of us apparently!) and looks as good as any other Chinese airport I have seen (which includes a few) and leaves a great impression of a thriving metropolis the moment you step off the plane.

With a population of 8.85 million (the same size as Greater London it was pointed out today) Changsha is one of China's smaller cities, but is now one of the top 20 in terms of its economic advancement and operates as a major hub for the industrial, tourist and service sectors.

Our focus today was on China's environmental sector, and we visited the Head Office and manufacturing plant of the Broad Group, a privately owned local high-tech manufacturer which specialises in sustainable building products, non-electric air conditioning equipment and air purifiers. This was a window into a future world of environmentally sustainable buildings, and with many of our delegates representing companies in architecture, design and clean technology, we were all staggered at the advances being made in modular, pre-fabricated buildings (which can be constructed within one day!) and the use of alternative energy sources. There is no doubt that China is leading the world in the development of these capabilities, products and services and Broad Group is at the very forefront of these new industries.

As with all Chinese companies these days, whilst you can't help marvelling in their vision, energy and commitment, what is so noticeable are the advances made over the last five years to present their capabilities to foreigners. With smart, bright and English-speaking young executives, plus large, clean and comfortable facilities in which to show videos on big screens showcasing their business (always accompanied by loud thumping motivational music!) and well orchestrated tours of their pristine factory facilities, you always come away with the impression that every level of detail has been carefully planned and thought through. China is not only moving to the higher end of the value chain, but they are now pushing into areas we haven't even thought of yet, and they are competing against established businesses and industries in developed markets!

Can you afford to stay on the sidelines?