Not exactly the warmest of welcomes back to Taipei. I don’t think I can ever remember it being so cold and miserable here! And while I’ve experienced heavier earthquakes than the 5.8 one that hit the island last night, the tremors were more than enough to set my heart pounding and blood pumping a little too quickly for comfort.
My trip to China last week was fun if a little exhausting. It was great to have a chance to catch up with people from other departments who I don’t normally get to meet on my trips and to hear the recipients of long-service awards talk about their experiences of working for VIA. Loyalty is often an under-appreciated virtue: one that is only invoked by senior management when staff retention problems emerge.
If I had to choose one word to describe the mood in China overall, I would opt for confident. The economy is robust and there is a strong sense of optimism about the future, thanks in large part to the clear direction that the government has set for the nation’s future development. The Belt and Road initiative is an excellent example. No other country in the world has the vision to launch such an ambitious infrastructure development plan – not to mention the planning and management experience and expertise to implement it effectively.
This growing sense of confidence is also leading to a greater willingness not just to embrace rapid technological change but also to innovate. You just have to look at how quickly the government, universities, and business are moving to implement AI. The speed and the scale of the investments are breathtaking. Only last week President Xi Jinping talked about the need to swiftly adopt the technology to boost innovation and competitiveness, while companies like Alibaba and jd.com are leading the way to drive its adoption in commercial segments such as retail.
I don’t think that Kai-fu Lee was exaggerating his speech at Davos when he pointed out that “the tech world is running faster than any time in history” and asked whether it could make the EU obsolete. I just hope that the right people were listening and didn’t write it off as mere hyperbole.