I was at Dalian, China the last week for the World Economic Forum's event there. It is really interesting the way China is portraying herself on the world stage. What China has done and is doing about attracting the world attention is worth observing as a masterful effort in brand and marketing.
Mind you, I am not for a moment arguing that "only spin" is going to do the trick. My personal moment of truth in China happened in Shanghai, (look at the photo I took with my cell phone) when I travelled at the highest speed I have ever done on land (432 kmph, though the photograph reflects 405 kmph, could not hold my camera steady at 432 kmph ) on the Maglev train from Shanghai city to the airport. That said though, the Chinese, I argue, have become adept at packaging very, very attractively what they have…
Think about it-they have a lot of challenges to work with… the lack of English (as compared to their neighbours down south) is a serious impediment, they have a very different business culture, etc., and yet, they have the world's ears, are on top of the charts for direct investment, and for a lot of businesses that are looking to grow.
I put it down to organisation- what I found incredibly interesting about china was, they run their country like a business- a small group of individuals take decisions, and the rest of the country executes… period. Works well for them, and they are reaping the rewards for it.
But the marketing part- the same group of strategists seem to be able to teach a thing or two about marketing. Green is important, ergo, all streetlamps in Dalian are CFL (you know, the green ones, good for the environment!), the roads and taxis work incredibly, the entire city had a scrubbed look (try scrubbing Mumbai!), and of course, the conference center, the hotels, the rooms in a "Tier 2" city were absolutely fantastic. This to me is a hugely marketing centric view, which is resulting in phenomenal success for China.