Thanks for dropping by.
For me, the "Chinese
Currents" metaphor conveys a sense of the incredible scale and complexity of change that the people here have had
to navigate through since the flood gates of economic development were finally forced open. The economic "sea-change" over the past 30 years
has, in varying degrees, affected and continues to affect all 1.3 billion Chinese people. The extent of the social
change that has been driven by this force has to be seen to be believed.
The "sea-change" has been mostly good. In fact mostly very good indeed. Tens of millions have been lifted out of poverty. Hundreds
of millions have witnessed an amazing increase in their disposable income. And also, much further upstream,
there are now more than a million people who have accumulated wealth in excess of 10 million yuan.
This group are powering the development of the private sector, as well as the incredible growth in the luxury
As with all "sea-changes",
however, there is also a large degree of unpredictability,
not to mention disorientation. As a society shifts from "fairness" (everyone in the same boat, having
very little) to increasing inequality –
when neighbours who used to have as little as everyone else suddenly and conspicuously have more than those
next door – then discontent
"proximity of inequality", as I call it, is the most dangerous current on China's development voyage,
because the increasing "closeness" of inequality has a far bigger effect on the psyche – and, in particular, on people's notion
of status and well-being –
than inequality per se.
In the 30 years
since my first visit, I've been lucky enough to journey to all of China's 34 provinces, municipalities and
regions, and to more than 100 cities. My constant exposure
to the complexity and magnitude of China's changing currents continues to remind me that, even though so much water has
passed under the bridge since my first visit in 1988, my learning curve is as steep as ever. I love to photograph what I see, and write about what I see and hear. My
longest trip was a 35-day 10,603-mile rail journey from Beidaihe to north-eastern China, then to Tibet, and from Tibet to southern
and then eastern China, and back to where I started from.
On my travels I am always keen to listen to local people telling their own stories of
what has changed in their lives over the years, and what they think is likely to change in the near and not-so-near
future. I try to go that extra mile to find out what excites and inspires them, and what washes over them. The key
question I continue to ask myself is, how are the sea-changes here reshaping people's
lives, opinions and also their relationships with brands.
Talking of which, for the last 35+
years, my day job has been helping Clients build brands (and, of course, writing has always been an important part of this).
Wherever in the world you are, if you think I might be able to help you, please let me know.
Thanks and best regards.