2013,财富全球论坛与成都 / Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu 2013

2013,财富全球论坛与成都

自1995年首届财富全球论坛在新加坡举办以来,我已经参加了全部12届论坛中的10届。每届论坛都让我获益良多,记忆深刻,也是非常宝贵的学习机会。在论坛期间,我还结识了很多好友和熟人,从中也享受到很多乐趣。

6月6日至8日在成都举办的2013年财富全球论坛是迄今为止规模最大也是最好的一届论坛。共有大约800名代表出席了论坛,其中包括中国和世界知名企业的CEO,大型非政府组织的负责人,现任和前任政府首脑,以及来自学术界的专家。代表们就今后的中国和世界将何去何从展开了高规格的对话。

而早在两年半以前,我就作为先遣组成员,考察了包括成都在内的多个中国城市,对哪座城市将成为最具吸引力且最高效的下届全球论坛举办地进行了评估。回头想想,我们给出的推荐意见无疑是正确的。

选择主办城市的重要条件之一,就是看当地政府领导对成功举办活动有多大热情。而成都无论在热情、努力还是不惜成本的投入方面,都树立了新的标杆。其他城市和地区的开发部门都可以从成都的成功中学到一些经验。

除了在机场、电视、平面媒体上进行密集的全球广告投放外,成都政府还调集了15,000名人员从多方面为活动提供支持。

这是中国西部城市首次举办如此高规格、大规模的国际商务会议,因此需要大量不同以往的准备工作。例如,仅成都双流机场就需日接待进港商务专机50架次,创下了新纪录。

安保工作也是这类活动的难点,在首日磨合之后需要进行更多的微调。

很多外企老板以前也曾去过成都,据他们反映,成都城市的变化让他们印象深刻,其中既包括硬件也包括软件。

而就在不久前,外企老板听到“成都”二字,即使不是所有人但也会有很多人问:“成都是什么?”或者是“成都在哪儿?”

公平地讲,我认为通过此次论坛,成都真正进入了各行业有影响力的决策者的视野,并被视为中国西部经济开发的主要驱动力。

就我个人而言,这次去成都具有双重怀旧意味。

首先,它让我想起两年半前与时代公司一起对成都进行的考察,以及当时我们对各个被考察城市所作的优劣评判。即使从这短短的两年半时间来看,成都也已经发生了重大的改变,其中一部分与筹备这届盛会有关。

其次,我回忆起1983年第一次访问成都的情景。当时我是应四川省外贸局下属国有广告公司——四川广告公司的邀请,用一周多的时间撰写文章,向海外商业读者推介四川的外贸、投资和旅游机遇。

除了对成都的官员、企业领导进行采访外,我们还走访了很多城市,与当地政府和企业交流。我们还参观了卧龙大熊猫保护基地。

如果将1983年的成都和2013年的成都作对比,我脑海中只有一个词可以形容,就是“沧海桑田”。我指的不是四川人的好客、烈酒和麻辣美食,而是城市的外观、条件、基础设施和人民的生活水平。

1983年我到成都的第一天,为满足我参观书店的要求,接待方带我去了离毛主席塑像不远的新华书店,那座塑像至今还屹立在市中心。

那天因为断电,书店用的是蜡烛照明,这种经历对我来说还是头一回。记得我问年轻的女售货员有没有四川地图时,她脸上的表情,就好像1)我是从外星来的;2)从没有人问过这样奇怪的问题;3)我肯定是个可疑分子。

那时候,一到晚上城市的天际线就是一片漆黑。没有高楼大厦。锦江饭店可能是当时城里最高的建筑之一。外国投资刚刚兴起,但主要是低端劳动密集型产业。道路等基础设施也很原始。

对很多中国青年来说,30年也许很漫长,因为他们在成长过程中已经习惯了社会的急速变化。但事实上,世界上并没有几个城市能像成都那样,在如此短暂的时间里经历了快节奏的变化和发展。

这是十分令人瞩目的成就,也昭示了中国西部未来发展的好兆头。

我很自豪,在这三十年间有幸参与了将成都和中国西部的情况介绍给国际商业社会的过程。时间过得真是飞快!

Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu 2013

I’ve participated in 10 of the 12 Fortune Global Forums held since the event was launched in Singapore in 1995. Each has been rewarding, memorable, and a valuable learning experience. I’ve also made some good friends and acquaintances at these events, and had a lot of fun.

The 2013 Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu from June 6-8 was the biggest and best to date. Some 800 delegates, including CEOs of many of China’s and the world’s biggest companies, as well as leading NGO heads, current and former government leaders, and academics gathered for a high-level dialogue on the road ahead for China and the world.

I was part of the advance team that visited a number of Chinese cities, including Chengdu, 2 ½ years ago to evaluate which would be the most attractive and effective venue for the next Global Forum. In hindsight I have no doubt we made the right recommendation.

One of the important criteria for selecting a host city is the level of enthusiasm among local government leaders towards making the event a success. In terms of enthusiasm, effort, and sparing no expense, Chengdu set a new gold standard. Other cities and regional development authorities should learn a lesson from their success.

Apart from embarking on an extensive global advertising campaign in airports, on television, and in print, the Chengdu government deployed some 15,000 staff in various support roles for the event.

This was the first major high-level global business meeting of its kind in Western China, and as such it required extensive and unusual preparations. Just one example was the requirement of handling the arrival of something like 50 business jets in one day at Chengdu’s Shuangliu Airport — a new record.

Security for an event of this sort is also challenging and was one area which required some fine tuning after teething problems on day one.

What I heard from many foreign company heads, including those who had previously been to Chengdu, was how impressed they were with the dramatic changes in the city: both in the hardware as well as the software of the place.

There was a time not that long ago when many if not most foreign business leaders’ reaction to hearing the name “Chengdu” would have been: “What’s that?” or “Where’s that?”

I think it’s fair to say that the efforts leading up to and during the Global Forum really put Chengdu on the map for a wide variety of influential decision-makers who now associate it as a key driver of the economic development of Western China.

For me personally, there was a dual element of nostalgia to my visit this time.

First, I was thinking back to my visit with the Time Inc. advance team 2 ½ years ago, and the deliberations and discussions we held at that time about the pros and cons of the various cities we visited. Even within that short time frame, Chengdu has undergone some significant changes, partly in preparation for the event.

Second, thinking back to my first visit to Chengdu, in 1983. I was there at the invitation of the then state-owned advertising agency, Sichuan Advertising, which was under the provincial foreign trade bureau. My task was to spend more than a week writing an introduction to Sichuan’s foreign trade, investment and tourism opportunities for the overseas business audience.

Apart from interviewing officials and company heads in Chengdu, we travelled around to many other cities, talking with company heads and local officials. We also visited the panda reserve base in Wolong.

Only one word comes to mind when I think about comparing Chengdu in 1983 and in 2013: unrecognizable. By that I mean not the great hospitality of the people, the fiery baijiu, or wonderful “ma-la” cuisine, but the physical appearance and condition of the city, its basic infrastructure, and the standard of living of its people.

In 1983 on the first day I arrived, my hosts kindly accommodated my request to visit a bookstore, and brought me to the Xinhua Bookstore not far from the towering statue of Chairman Mao which still stands in the downtown area today.

Due to an electrical power failure, I did my book shopping that first day by candle light. That was a first for me. Also memorable was the young sales lady’s facial expression when I asked if they had a map of Sichuan Province for sale. She looked at me as though 1) I was from another planet; 2) no one else had ever asked such a bizarre question; and 3) I must be a suspicious character.

In those days, the skyline of the city at night was dark. Tall buildings had yet to be built. The Jinjiang Hotel was as tall or taller than most other downtown buildings. Foreign investment was beginning, but mainly in low-end, labor-intensive processing trade type ventures. Roads and infrastructure were very basic.

To many younger Chinese, 30 years may seem like a long time, because they have grown up accustomed to a blistering pace of change in their society. In reality, very few cities in world history have undergone the pace of change and development which Chengdu has in this relatively short time frame.

It’s an extremely impressive achievement and one which bodes well for the further development of Western China.

I’m proud to have been involved in communicating Chengdu’s and Western China’s story to the international business community for the past 30 years. And the time has really flown by.


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