Bettina is a fellow classmate on my trip to China and had the following dispatch from Shanghai: Nǐhǎo from Shanghai! My name is Bettina and I am a first-year student at the Yale School of Management. Paul kindly agreed to let me “guest post” on his blog as we travel together in China for our International Experience Trip. Like many of my classmates on this excursion, this is my first visit to China. In fact, it is my first visit to Asia. Our ten day course began in Shanghai. I actually arrived two days early to sightsee with classmates, during which I visited the Yùyuán Gardens, Shanghai Museum, Bund, and People’s Square. I also had the chance to meet with four expatriate entrepreneurs, including a friend from high school, who are in the process of launching three fabulous companies while living here: Strictly Cookies, Lu Ru Home, and Flatter Me. In the past 72 hours, since meeting up with the Yale team (Professor Yan, 23 first-years, and two second-years Jing and Vincent, both of whom grew up here and are moving back upon graduation), we have met with three asset management firms, a brokerage firm, a real estate company, a private equity company, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. During one of our meetings, we spoke with the Chairman of Lord Abbett China Asset Management. He summarized the current state of China in one word: transition. This pointed characterization has stuck with me over the past few days and best captures my impression of the country so far. Here are a few anecdotes to begin to explain why: - Pŭdōng is an area of Shanghai that was marshy farmland just a few decades ago. Today, the skyline of Pŭdōng is evolving so rapidly that the view from any residence or office changes every 30 days. Pŭdōng boasts some of the tallest buildings in the world, including the World Financial Center (100+ floors) and the Jīnmào Tower (88 floors). A 127 floor building is now being built alongside those towers. - In 1990, the Shanghai Stock Exchange was reestablished. Today it is ranked the 6th largest stock market in the world with more than 100 million investors and 900 listed companies – and as its leadership expressed in our meeting, the Shanghai Stock Exchange is poised to continue to grow in a big way. - Forte Group is a real estate firm with projects across China. After meeting with a managing partner from the group on Wednesday, we visited one of its residential developments under construction – six high-rise buildings, approximately two and a half kilometers from center city. The development is nearing completion and the surrounding gardens are picturesque. With amazement, we learned that two thirds of the development was sold in 2010. Alongside this incredible growth, businessmen and women here have spoken to us about its bear market. Projected GDP growth was reduced to 7.5 percent in the last few days, while empowering the Chinese consumer, growing urbanization, and suppressing inflation are main topics of conversation. Because of this, China feels very much like a country in transition. It has been amazing to meet with business leaders and alumni here in Shanghai. It has been equally fun to explore Chinese food and night scene, to say the least… and I am sure we will have much more to report from Nanjing and Beijing.