Blog: Made it to Beijing
Dave Leggett | 14 November 2006
View from Leggett's hotel room on Wednesday morning
After a long flight Beijing seems rather splendid in the sunshine. Two things have made an early impression. The traffic is heavier than I remember it being here and there is a great deal of construction work going on. Signs of economic boom are very evident and there's even a spanking new airport to impress visitors when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games in 2008. After the customs and passport formalities you emerge into a modern arrivals hall and are immediately facing a Starbucks and a KFC. Yup, this place has changed since the mid-90s.
Mind you, some things haven't changed. The taxi fleet is still a little, shall we say basic. There were no seat belts in the back of the well worn Citroen ZX (booted) that took myself and colleague Will Johnston into town. The official signs telling people to buckle up were just a little ironic. 'They don't have crashes here then?' remarked Will, looking for his seatbelt. Also, the fashion for covering seats and headrests with protective sheets has not gone away either. Seems a bit daft when the interior is falling to bits anyway.
Examples of the VW Santana 2000 (an ancient VW Santana stretched to give more leg room for passengers in the rear) looked horrible, like the designers did it in five minutes. Probably sells okay though. Looking forward to seeing more cars on the streets over the next few days.
The flat bed tricycles bearing heavy loads on the streets still stand attest to the hard lives that many peope here lead.
Hotel is good though (the oddly named 'Kerry Centre Hotel' - how Chinese is that?). Broadband access in hotel rooms is complimentary (though some websites appear to be blocked off - not just-auto though!). Loads of Westerners staying around here. Weather perfect for a late afternoon stroll to Tiananmen Square, I think. And maybe some Beijing duck after that.
Automotive News China Conference kicks off tomorrow. I have forgotten to bring the event programme and my business cards with me, which is fairly typical. But I have tracked tomorrow's event description down on the web. Good to see Mike Dunne on the programme - he's a good speaker with excellent knowledge of the Chinese market. And he'll be wearing his new JD Power hat now. Might not be able to resist a wisecrack of some sort (his company, ARA - well respected and built up over a long period of time - was recently purchased by JP Power; can't blame him for that and he still has a job too - nice work). Maybe I can interest him in writing for just-auto again...
Wednesday, November 15
10:00am Registration desk open
Coffee and refreshments available
10:30am Seminar sponsored by Deloitte
The Road to Prosperous Growth: Outlook for the automotive industry in China
5:30pm Welcome cocktail reception (sponsored by Deloitte)
6:30pm Dinner (sponsored by Deloitte)
7:45pm Welcome and speaker introductions
Michael J. Dunne, Vice President, China Operation, JD Power Asia Pacific, Inc.
Yoshimi Inaba, Executive Vice President, Toyota Motor Corporation
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