Small US firms should see opportunity, not risk, in China

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/16 20:53:40

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

Now is the right time for small US businesses to embrace opportunities in China.

China has gone from being an outsider to the second-largest economy in the world. In the past 30 years, China has taken the decision to open up, to reform itself and to join the globalization trend. China has also accepted the Internet. If America is a country on wheels, China today is a country on the Internet or on mobile phones. Provided you learn, and you embrace change, you will get a chance. In the past 30 years, the US economy was the engine of the global economy. I believe that in the next 30 years, the US economy will still be a major engine of the global economy, but China is going to be another big engine of the global economy, and China is now shifting from exporting to importing.

People should see China as an opportunity, partly because 200 million people do their shopping on their mobile phones every day. On Singles' Day (November 11) last year, we racked up sales of $1.78 billion in one single day. We are helping to deliver 60 million packages per day, from which we can foresee there will be at least 1 billion packages needing to be delivered in China in the next 10 years.

People are always scared of being cheated but small businesses should not be worried about that. What they should worry about is losing this opportunity. If you lose China, you will lose the biggest developing country in Asia. If you lose e-commerce, and you do not sell your products in China, you will miss out on the future.

This will require a change of mentality. The world is changing fast but complaining about change doesn't help at all. Instead, opportunity always exists where people always complain. If you can solve complaints, that is the best opportunity. We are in a very critical period of the technology revolution. For every technology revolution, the first 50 years are critical. Of those 50 years, the first 20 years are about developing the technology, and the next 30 years are about the application of the technology. In the first technology revolution, if you were the first company using steam-powered machines, you would have succeeded. In the second technology revolution, if you were the first company to use electricity, then you would have been successful. In this technology revolution, if you are the first company to embrace the change, see the future and change yourself, you will have the best chance.

Artificial intelligence is coming. Robots will replace many jobs. But I firmly believe that 30 years later, this new technology will create more jobs. Machines are going to be smarter. But people are always wiser. So try to teach your kids to be more creative and innovative, because only people who are creative and innovative can survive. Also, we should let our children get to know e-commerce, because e-commerce is about respecting other cultures, and about communication.

Having said that, it's worth mentioning that globalization and free trade still matters. In the past 20 years, the world economy has grown fast, because of globalization. In the past 20 years, we have had Google, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba and Uber. But in the next 30 years, it is not just pure Internet companies that will win; those companies that can make use of the Internet will win. So, please pay special attention to those people who are below 30 years old. They are the Internet generation, and they are going to change the future. Please pay special attention to those companies who have less than 30 employees, because small companies will be the future and are likely to become the big companies of the 21st century. In the past 100 years, in the industrial period, everything has been about amount, size and standardization. In the next 30 years, the world will be shifting from standardization to personalization.

All these, it seems, point to the abundant opportunities in the Chinese consumer market that await small US businesses.

The article was compiled based on a keynote speech by Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun at Alibaba's Gateway '17 conference in Detroit in June.

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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