20. September 2012 · Comments Off on First Impressions of the business opportunities in the City of Weihai (Shandong Province, China) · Categories: China, Uncategorized

Thanks to the invitation of the Weihai Bureau of Commerce and the brand recognition of OnGreen in China due to its work and expansion there over the past two years, I got a chance to visit Weihai this week as their guest. For those who have never heard of Weihai, you can read the Wikipedia article here.

The first thing that hit me upon coming out of the airport after arrival was the freshness of the air and the blue skies – both of which are very rare commodities in other parts of China. The city reminds me of Santa Barbara (a sister city of Weihai) and San Sebastian (Basque region of Spain).IMG_4548

Weihai is known for its very clean environment, amazing seafood, friendly people, low cost of living and best of all, a very good climate to do business driven by several incentives provided by the local government agencies and economic and investment zones.

I got a view of Liugong Island from my hotel room at sunrise. Known as the birthplace of the Chinese navy, it also has China’s first golf course which was built by the British.

The theme of the city is Joy and Happiness as evidenced by the Happiness Gate and a sculpture made with several versions of the Chinese words for Joy and Happiness. IMG_4541

The city also is home to some of the best golf courses and hot springs in the country.

My trip agenda consisted of getting a feel of the eco-system and community of Weihai as well as meeting with some officials and visiting the economic zones which offer incentives to foreign companies.IMG_4612

Weihai and its neighbor, Yantai, are building the largest wine-producing region in the world. Yantai has over 40 vineyards. The one I got to visit was Weihai Weal. Good wine, I must say. They also have a sister brewery serving some very fresh beer. The food served during the various banquet dinners consisted of some extremely rare seafood delicacies such as thorned sea cucumbers, massive shrimp, abalone and sea urchins. IMG_4672

I was able to visit Shandong University‘s Weihai campus and was told that Shandong province is one of the largest universities in the world in terms of the number of registered students at a give time. IMG_4747

During a tour of their IT/Computer Science Department, I walked into an ongoing Hackathon where a huge hall filled with students and instructors were going at it for 72 hours straight.


The city officials gave a presentation of the different incentives available. Weihai and its various districts are very interested in attracting top talent – both from within China and from outside China – to Weihai and showering them with some great financial incentives – most of which are performance based. A big emphasis for them remains growth in IT given the economical and highly talented resources available in the city. The incentives come from different level – from the Central Administration to the provincial level to the City level and down to the appropriate economic zone – in a very cumulative manner. Very attractive indeed.IMG_4709

The City is also investing heavily in building the green and blue economies and keen on inviting and investing into “new energy” companies. With ample water resources and a strategic location, I thought that they were some great objectives for the local government. IMG_4694

Weihai and its neighboring cities are going through some major infrastructure advancements with a high speed rail connecting it to Yantai and Qingdao (home of Tsingtao beer) – which in turn connects to the main Chinese hub of high speed rail going to Beijing. It is also building express ways between all major cities. Most developments are expected to complete and open to the public by 2015.

Can’t wait to go back again!


16. September 2012 · Comments Off on Technology and Communication 101 v1.1 behind the Great Firewall of China · Categories: China

Current as of September 2012.

I recently upgraded to an iPhone 4S and by using different Apps, technology became a better friend – especially with global travel – and having traveled to China over 20 times in the past 2 years for work.  Using-iPhone-in-China

Back in the US, I am on the Sprint network and have an unlocked 4S. Before you start using your iPhone in China, you will need to make sure its unlocked. You can check this by calling your network carrier. Also, I do not use Sprint’s international plan as it is pretty expensive – so you can disable it by going to Setting –> General –> Network. This option is very important in case you are not planning to get an international SIM card and intend using your iPhone over WiFi which is available in most cafes, hotels, airports and restaurants – and that too for free in most cases.

In China, I prefer using the China Unicom network and SIM card rather than China Mobile as Unicom offer’s 3G for the iPhone whereas China Mobile’s 3G network is not yet compabitble with the iPhone. The China Unicom card costs 100RMB for first time buyers (~ USD14) and includes a ton of talk time and data. Renewal of the card runs at about 50RMB. You might need to “trim” the regular China Unicom SIM card to make it fit into your iPhone. Most vendors will cut it for you. Make sure you don’t discard your US SIM card as you will probably need it when you arrive stateside.

For me, communication with my family and team is extremely important. And I also am very frugal with things so try to find the cheapest – in most cases FREE – ways to get my job done. Here are some of my favorite Apps to use on my iPhone when in China.

Facetime: My favorite App for communication back with my family. Free. Great quality video calls. The only downside is that it works at this time only when both parties are on WiFi (I believe this will change with the iOS6) and using Apple devices.

Skype: Great to IM, video calls, Skype-to-Skype calls – all for free. You only pay for data usage if using the China mobile network – but can avoid it by using WiFi. Free to download App from iTunes.

Tango: Great for video calls as an alternate to Facetime when you are not on WiFi. Fre App and Free to use.

Viber: Good to send IM’s and make phone calls for free to other Viber users.

WhatsApp: Very nice IM App – also allows for sharing photos and videos. Used to be free when I downloaded but they have recently started charging $0.99.

Voxer: For quick walkie-talkie style messages to other Voxer users. You can send messages when offline too and they would get transmitted when you are back on the grid.

Vtok: Google Talk’s unofficial Ap for the iPhone. Good for IM’s as well as video and audo calls to other G-Chat users.

Whenever I am in China on business, no matter how many business cards I bring, I seem to run out of them. I also end up with a million business cards. Most Chinese business cards are bi- lingual. But in order to not carry them home with me, I like to scan them into my address book on my flight back home or when I have some down time. The App I like to use is ScanBizCards. You can take a picture of the business card and it automatically fills in the contact information into your address book (you can edit it) – saves you a ton of time and also preserves the contact information on your iPhone. Free for scanning up to 5 cards a week and then you can upgrade it if you like it.

Good luck!