China Expat & Travel Blogger. ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO IN CHINA. See My Fun TRAVEL Adventures in China!
"So, what's some hot trends, cool technology, and awesome products coming out of China?" Heck, it's like clockwork. As an expat in China for 6 years and counting, it's just one of those questions I've come to expect whenever I speak with people from back home.
Sure, China has it's fair share of cool homegrown goods and gadgets that are worthy of genuine praise--take the Xiaomi smartphone, Tsingtao beer, electric scooters and robot chefs--but forget all that. For me, the best things "made-in-China" don't lie in the country's products; rather, China's real braggadocios gems are found in 4 key areas: technology, transportation, lifestyle, and services.
Let's just get this one out the way. You might not know it, but China's home to some innovative and grandstanding technology that's surpassed world records. There's Tianhe-2, the world's fastest supercomputer, Three Gorges, the world's most powerful hydroelectric dam, FAST, the world's largest radio telescope, and the world's largest floating solar power plant, just to name a few. China's also got the world's largest surveillance and facial recognition system, is leading in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, and is producing electric cars at a phenomenal rate. Plus, as China continuously emerges a power player on the world stage and becomes the largest market for nearly everything, you can undoubtedly expect more breakthrough technological advances to come in the near future.
Here's an awesome fact: China has the world's largest high-speed railway network. It's a whopping 25,000 kilometers (16,000 miles) in total length--Spain comes in at 2nd with 3,100km--and has got bullet trains that, on average, run between 250-300km an hour.
What's more, the high-speed trains reach nearly every province across China and over 1 billion passengers ride China's high-speed trains annually.
And on top of that? China's home to the Shanghai Maglev, the world's fastest active high-speed train. It can travel 30 kilometers (or 19 miles) in just 8 minutes at a whopping 430 km/hr (267 mi/hr)!
So what does all that mean, well, aside from being absolutely incredible? That means you can travel between popular destinations like Shanghai and Beijing--about 1,318 kilometers, or 819 miles, apart--in roughly 5 hours. Or how about knowing that you can reach nearly every major city across China at an affordable cost, without having to catch a flight?
And then there's the fact that in a land filled with nearly 1.3 billion people, China's high-speed railway network has not only made it easier to do business, visit family and friends, and tour the country, but it's also connected rural and urban sections of China like never before, paving the way for the region's huge economic boost and cementing its status as a power player on the world stage.
That, my friends, isn't just an impressive fact--it's also a mind-boggling feat that the rest of the world should follow suit. I wonder, when is America going to catch up?
"When it comes to the Chinese lifestyle, what's the #1 thing you'd export to your home country?". My sure-fire answer? Square-dancing. Oh, and drinking hot water, but I'll save that story for another time.
First, what exactly is Chinese square-dancing? Well, each day from 6:30pm-8:00pm across China there are small to large groups of individuals--mostly women aged 40yrs. and above--dancing to very rhythmic music in public squares, parks, recreational fields, and even street corners.
But it's not dancing how you'd think. Instead, it's more of a combination of just enough small and often difficult movements carried out in unison. Some routines you can do standing still, while others you can do moving in a line. And it's not rare to find groups going all out and wearing bright and colorful matching uniforms.
Chinese square dancing is fun, it's social, it's festive, and not only does it help to burn fat, tone the muscles, strengthen the bones, and boost immunity, it's also a great way for China's elderly to maintain bonds, improve memory, and develop high self-esteem into old age.
Chinese square dancing can be--should be practiced around the world. Imagine in the West, for instance, that you'd find people of different ages, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds, hitting the streets and busting out routines to popular musical genres such as hip-hop, pop, and funk music, all in an effort to promote fitness, enhance social interaction, reduce stress, and decrease time spent on electronics. It could take place at hot-spots like parks, the beach, sports fields, and even churches. The only problem? Keeping people away from McDonald’s after the workout!
Karaoke bars, or KTVs, are widespread across China. No really, they're everywhere. In fact, they're so popular that it’s almost a rites of passage in Chinese culture to gather up a group of friends or colleagues on a late night and sing/rap tunes until the wee hours of the morning. And it's for good reason, too.
For one, KTVs are just all around fun. Alcohol. Music. Singing. Dancing. Friends. Family. Colleagues. New Faces. You just can't go wrong.
And two? China's KTVs are a spectacle. They're big, they're decorative, they're lavish, and they've usually got dozens of lounge-like private rooms decked out with multiple flat screens, sofas, party games, and festive stage lights.
Services at Chinese KTVs are pretty good too. Press a button and there are hosts ready to bring you snacks, drinks, extra microphones, fix the entertainment systems, and even clean up any alcohol you've occasionally spilled from knocking back too many drinks. And at some KTVs you can even pay for a beautiful hostess to drink with you the entire night!
Whether visiting as a tourist, on a short business trip, or have just landed in China to start work--just get to a KTV!
When it comes to day-to-day lifestyle services, China's got some of the most convenient, affordable, and highly effective setups around, from mail carriers, cheap massages, and home food delivery, to housekeeping, transportation, and apps where you can purchase just about anything. But the two hottest lifestyle services in China worthy of acclaim? Public bike-sharing, and of course, apps like Wechat.
Here's how it works: Head to the streets. Find a bike. Whip out your phone. Pull up a bike-sharing app. Scan the bike's QR code. Unlock the bike. Ride it around the city. Park it. Lock it. And boom, you're done. It's that simple. It's that cool.
What separates China's public bike-sharing services from most other places around the world is that you won't need to place the bikes back into a designated dock. Instead, popular local Chinese brands like Mobike and Ofo allow riders to park the bikes nearly anywhere across a city. Leave the bikes in front of the office, outside of school, next to the supermarket, or right up the street from a popular tourist hub.
The bikes are accessible, easy to use, help save time and cash, and offer a healthier solution to getting around town. Oh yeah, they're stylish too!
There are some downsides to China's bike-sharing system, though. Many users park bicycles in prohibited places--inside housing communities, parks, and boardwalks--and there have even been altercations in regards to bikes left on private property.
What's more, some bikes have been known to feel rather ... cheap. Faulty brakes, loose seats, broken chains--it seems like 1 out of every 3 bikes has got some problems.
And well, these are issues that both private bike sharing companies and local Chinese governments will need to fix in the near future. Once settled though, I just hope China's shared bike service can be implemented around the world!
Wechat & QR Codes
China's killing the game when it comes to homegrown handy apps that can take care of just about any and everything you need in your daily life.
Take WeChat for instance, a messaging, social media, and mobile payment app that's got over 1 billion monthly users. You want to send messages, join social groups, post photos and videos, and transfer files? Sure, that's basic. But how about paying your bills, transferring money, buying groceries, ordering food, splitting a tab, and purchasing movie and train tickets? Yep, Wechat's got it all!
And apps like Wechat are helping to lead China's emergence into a cashless society thanks largely in part to quick response codes, i.e. QR codes.
They're everywhere--products, advertisements, business cards, website logins, inventory. A quick scan and you're linked to information, businesses, transactions, storage, and services. Yep, daily life can seem far easier to navigate when you've got QR codes and apps getting you what you need and where you need to go.
Yep, daily life can seem far easier to navigate when you've got QR codes and apps getting you what you need and where you need to go.
I've recently read an article that said that after the Ipod, Iphone, and Ipad, Apple's next explosive wave won't necessarily come from technology; instead, it's going to be all about services, from Itunes, Apple Music, and Apple TV, to the Apple Store, iCloud and Apple Pay.
And trust me, if they want to do it B-I-G, sooner or later they're going to have to copy China's lead.
Well there you have it folks! The top things made-in-China that you need to hear about. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Well, let me know down below!