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Life in China for a Chinese CEO

The top dog

life in China

CEO is the acronym for Chief Executive Officer, the title of the top dog in a company. The CEO may have a boss or bosses above them, or they may be the owner of the company or one of the partners. Life in China is soaring to heights that have never been seen in the world before. The view from there is extraordinary. Competition to give employees perks and bonuses above and beyond those offered by competitors places employees in an enviable position. But where and how is it going to end? In some of the jobs I’ve had in my life, we thought it was good if we got a free cup of coffee now and then.

A handshake

Recently, however, a Chinese CEO, has gone to the top of the ladder on the bonuses and perks issue. This CEO took 6400 employees on a paid vacation to France, visiting Paris, Cannes, and Monaco. He works for Tiens, which incidentally is a French word, which, when used on its own is the imperative and means something like ‘Here’ or ‘take this’ or ‘hold this.’ The French ordinarily say it when they’re shaking someone’s hand, and the handshake holds special significance.

Tiens CEO, Li Jinyuan, booked 140 hotels in Paris and 4700 rooms in dozens of hotels in Cannes and Monaco for his grateful employees. Chinese media estimated that the entire holiday cost the company $14.6 million. Take this. That is some handshake.

Only in China

The expression, ‘Only in America,’ is used to describe outlandish behavior performed in America. We need a new one. ‘Only in China,’ I think has become more appropriate as the 21st century has progressed. Life in China surely is now more extravagant, more full of surprises than anything the U.S. has to offer. Tiens did not set the precedent. Recently, a 21-year-old CEO, a woman named Nui Mudong, gave away four brand new BMWs to high-performing employees as a bonus.

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The recipients of CEO Mudong’s generosity were all women, who had done very well in selling her company’s products, which include skin care, weight loss, and health care products. The two-year-old company has a monthly revenue of $3 million.

The CEO of a company based in Henan recently invited his hardest working employees into a room which had, on a large table in the middle, $2.5 million in Chinese yuan notes. He then started to hand out $100,000 bundles to his startled employees, most of whom left with a few $100,000 bundles clutched to their bosom.

Life in China

life in China

Is this life in China? No, I’m afraid there are billions of factory workers in China who also have CEOs above them, somewhere in the world, though they would never meet them or even see them. For factory workers life in China is different compared to those at wealthy corporations; it’s ridiculous to even to make a comparison. Their bonus system would be closer to my experience of feeling indulged if we got a free cup of coffee.

The system of punishment is more relevant to their life in China. Talking while they’re supposed to be working, may elicit a merciful warning or two, but if it persists, punishment, such as the whole workforce getting docked a day’s pay, is not unheard of. This too is life in China, a country in which the division of labor and wealth is reaching levels which other wealthy countries would not permit.

Home is where the heart and the wallet is

The opportunities that exist in China convince Chinese executives to stay in China and not to look for work abroad. There have been some recent CEO appointments of Indians in big U.S. firms, such as Pepsi and MasterCard. Appointments of Chinese CEOs in overseas companies are conspicuous by their absence.

The fact that Chinese executives are less willing to relocate has been put forward as a reason for this, as they see more opportunity and good pay at home in China. Salaries for CEO positions in China average out at $131,000 a year, which is almost the same as the Japanese average, a little less though than the average in the U.S., yet four times that found in India. But it is not where the salaries are at the moment that convinces Chinese executives to stay in China, China is a high-growth market, where opportunities for promotion are greater than anywhere else.

On average, it takes 15 years for someone to move from intern to CEO in China, compared to 25 years outside China.

Life in China, in many ways, is more comfortable for high wage earners. Their dollar or their Yuan goes further. There is also the fact that China has a population of 1.4 billion people, which is a huge market on its own. The Chinese feel that the best people to have as CEOs in China are the Chinese themselves. They understand life in China, and are going to accept more quickly the massive inequalities in China, and they speak Chinese of course. China is growing at an alarming rate. The quality offered by life in China is attractive by anybody’s standards.

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Life in China for a Chinese CEO
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