A Traveling CISO’s Observations from Xi’an China – The Kirkpatrick Report
Observations from Xi’an China
By Al Kirkpatrick, CISO for Firestorm’s The Kirkpatrick Report
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Xi’an pronounced “Shee-yun” is a large and very modern China city located just east of the middle of the country. Whereas Beijing is described as symbolizing China’s future, Xi’an beautifully symbolizes its history.
The center of Xi’an is a four square mile modern metropolis that actually reminded me of Chicago’s miracle mile. The difference however, is that the center city is completely enclosed by a 2,000 year old wall (8.2 miles around – 50 feet high and 50 feet wide at the top). At the exact center stands the 2,000 year old drum and bell tower. Drums were sounded at the start of the day to alert those inside and out that the gates would open. Bells were rung at the end of the day to give people a few minutes warning that the gates would close.
Outside of the wall, the city goes on forever with miles and miles of skyscrapers. In the four cities that we have visited so far, I have observed literally over a thousand construction cranes (yes, 1,000) supporting projects of every conceivable size and scope. There are so many of these cranes, that the locals joke that the “crane” is the new national bird of China. China cities are undoubtedly in an explosive growth period.
Along with the urban growth, locals have reported that cost of living in the urban areas is also experiencing explosive growth. The equivalent of an American mid-level management is hard pressed to support a family within the urban areas. Real estate prices are through the roof with double digit inflation and apparently the Chinese government is studying this problem to determine how to avoid “price strangulation” within the cities.
According to all the vendors I have worked with so far, there is a suitable pool of English-trained university graduates (I believe that I mentioned earlier that many read and write English quite well but struggle with live communication).
Xi’an – BPO Wave
Whereas China has traditionally focused on being the go-to place for manufacturing outsourcing, the government has recently decided that business process outsourcing is an additional wave of the future – however, China is calling it “knowledge processing outsourcing” and billing itself as “office to the world.”
All of my local contacts have openly discussed the Chinese government. There appears to be fierce pride for China, and yet some are choosing to emigrate, choosing locations such as Canada as a better and more affordable place to start and raise families, and to hopefully provide broader career opportunities.
Surprisingly, underneath the premier, being a member of the Communist Party is no longer a hard requirement for a government official; I was told that there are a couple of Vice Presidents (apparently the equivalent of U.S. cabinet heads) that are not! Also, there are some women vice presidents as well. The popularity of the Communist party, however, is reportedly on the rise. The unusual mix of Communism and Capitalism seems to agree with the Chinese people.
Beijing Rail Accident
From the blog, I was asked about the Chinese citizens’ reaction to the horrible high-speed rail accident. Again, my contacts appeared at ease in speaking their mind. The population made it clear that they felt the initial government reaction was not urgent and reeked of cover-up. In the end, the voice of the people resulted in the government amending its initial compensation offer to victims and approximately doubling it – – alongside a public apology by either the premier or prime minister (not certain what I was told).