China - Friendships in a world of changing times

Friedrich Appelberg about his visit to China in February 2023

Finally being in China again. After 3 years it was the first time. How much has life changed in the Middle Kingdom? That was the dominating question.

First of all, I love traveling for my life. It is the people I get to meet and experience all over the world that give me new thoughts. Friendships have been formed. Anyone who travels as frequently as I do will know what I mean.

My job requires traveling - at least that was my firm conviction - until Corona taught us otherwise. Since then, we have had to rethink and I admit it was not easy for me to stay at home. In the course of time, I also liked it and yes, I also found good arguments that had to be enough for me and my environment. Staying at home was also nice.

So I was all the more pleased to be able to get back on the plane to Shanghai to visit our local office. I was a little tense. For me as a frequent traveler, this was an unusual feeling. What would await me in China, what had changed? How would I be greeted?

The first reunion relaxed a lot, everyone was still on board and very happy to have more or less overcome the pandemic. We had seen each other remotely, of course, and I knew the status. But the on-site conversations were still important to be able to read between the lines as well.

The order situation for BOMAFA China is good, the reason is understandable: due to the bad economic situation, more power plants will be built again in 2023 and also in the following years. BOMAFA China will benefit from this. It becomes clear how priorities are distributed in China, economic development clearly takes precedence over environmental protection. 20 % unemployment among young employees describes the situation best. According to our office manager, China is in a recession, even though there is an official statement of a 3% growth in 2022.

The impression of difficult times was confirmed to me in the evening in Shanghai. Some well-known restaurants have not survived the crisis. The fear of being infected is still high. People are very cautious, only a few dare to go to the remaining restaurants. Everywhere they wear health masks. International tourism is also down. Only business travelers are allowed to enter.

Everywhere people wish for the old times to return. It could be described as a turn of the times in China. The growing limitations of freedom is becoming more and more precarious. Everything is suddenly different! People have also become cautious when it comes to their opinions. Politically, it is better for no one to speak out publicly. The motto in China is clear: Now it is at least important to expand prosperity or at least to maintain it.

It was a beautiful and emotional visit. Again, I feel filled with impressions that hold me - back in Germany. Far beyond the pure professional facts, it is again the people who bind my thoughts. Hopefully our friendship and cooperation will stay with us.

China is an incredibly interesting and inspiring country. A source of completely different thinking. The BOMAFA office in Shanghai is very important to us, not only in our internationalization strategy. This has become clear to me again in many ways. It is good to have traveled again.