SC State business students see China in action

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

South Carolina State University junior Davion Petty was impressed by what he saw during a recent class trip to China.

In fact, he was so impressed that he might move there after graduating with an accounting degree.

He found out that China has a great shortage of accountants.

Petty was surprised the Chinese expressed a great love and appreciation for Americans. But he was shocked by how marketing played a prevalent role in the communist nation.

He particularly liked China’s cultural epicenter, Shanghai.

“It was like New York City times ten,” Petty said.

Petty is one of the eight S.C. State business students who toured Chinese businesses and landmarks in late June. The group was led by university marketing professor Dr. David Jamison.

“I think it’s important to get them involved with the world,” he said.

Jamison went to China before in 1995. He discovered things have changed dramatically since then.

For starters, the number of McDonald’s restaurants have expanded from two to 1,000. The uniform, state-owned apartments that once filled the Beijing skyline are now accompanied by tall, modern office buildings.

Jamison noted the biggest difference was the economy, which he said has developed more of a capitalist slant. Standing on the streets, he was immersed in a sea of advertisements.

“It’s really truly stunning to see the change. ... It’s like Times Square pretty much everywhere you go in China,” he said.

The group visited a business school and several prominent Chinese businesses, including the Beijing-based Shougang Steel.

That company designed the Bird’s Nest Stadium, which served as the architectural centerpiece of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. The students got to take a tour of the Bird’s Nest.

“It was inspiring to even to be able to stand on the grounds of a place where setting records, making history and achieving goals is a common practice,” Petty said.

Despite assimilating some capitalist aspects into their culture, Jamison noted the Chinese economy is still controlled by the government.

“People in China understand they are given an opportunity to make money but it’s not their right,” he said.

Jamison said most Chinese companies tend to be very large due to a lack of free-market competition. He noted that up-and-coming businesses have to get government approval to expand.

Jamison said the role of women in China’s economy is also much different than in the United States. During the trip, Jamison saw women digging ditches and performing mechanic work.

The eight students were able to travel to China through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Jamison hopes S.C. State business students will have the opportunity to travel abroad every year. Destinations like Europe and Africa are next on Jamison’s list for his students.

For Petty, the trip may have been life-altering.

“I would definitely think about moving to China. It was a lovely place,” Petty said.