Is China the new Land of Opportunity?
Hao Ge (pronounced How Guh) is perhaps China’s most unlikely pop star: he is Nigerian, and he sings in Mandarin. His real name is Emmanuel Uwechue, though he is better known by his stage name, which sounds like the words for “good song” in Chinese. Mr. Uwechue, 33, has developed quite a fan base, particularly among the children and middle-aged women who watch “Xin Guang Da Dao,” the “American Idol” knockoff show, where he first gained notice a few years after his arrival here almost a decade ago. He has performed alongside a host of Chinese superstars — including Sun Nan, Na Ying and Han Hong — and has been enthusiastically embraced by the Chinese media.
The success story of Hao Ge is perhaps unusual in its magnitude, yet it is not unusual in the sense that China is becoming a more attractive choice for foreigners who wish to fulfill their long-life dreams. It is strange, for some people, to think of China as a Land of Opportunity – a place in which a person can fulfill and execute dreams, yet it makes perfect sense when considering the direction that China has taken and the opportunities that it entails.
The World is Changing
Up until recently, the phrase “The Land of Opportunity” has been attributed to the United States of America, and the “American Dream” has been attributed to immigrants that came to the United States looking for financial success. According to Wikipedia, “The American Dream “is the national Dream of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success”. The phrase “The American Dream” was coined by James Truslow Adams in 1931. He said: “Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth”. The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
China, unlike the United States, is not known as “The Land of Opportunity”, and success has not been defined in the declaration of independence; Yet, nowadays, success in China is perhaps more prominent and accessible than it is in the United States. As global economy changes and as the United States economy has been suffering from stagnation, China has become more attractive with its high percentage growth rate and with its hunger for a more western and modern lifestyle. This change in taste provides much room for entrepreneurs and others to fulfill their dreams, only if they are up to the challenge of dealing with difficulties such as adjusting to local flavors and mastering the Chinese language.
Another famous China success story is Mark Rowswell – DaShan. While relatively unknown in the West, Dashan is perhaps the most famous Western personality in China’s media industry. DaShan started studying Chinese in Canada, but it was only when he came to Beijing to further his studies in 1988 that he came to prominence. That year, he performed a comic skit on national television in front of an estimated audience of 550 million people. In an interview for the BBC, DaShan said: “I was in the right place at the right time; You’d seen foreigners in entertainment before, but they usually played the bad guy getting their heads kicked in a kung fu movie or an evil imperialist.” Dashan built on his initial success, hosting television shows, acting, endorsing products and mastering “crosstalk”, a form of Chinese stand-up comedy in which actors amaze audiences with their verbal dexterity. While most Chinese people cannot master “crosstalk”, DaShan has mastered it and has achieved great success. Since then, Mark Rowswell has successfully marketed his alter ego – Dashan, the inoffensive foreigner who looks like the guy next door. Dashan was smart enough to recognize that China might be the new Land of Opportunity.
China – The Land of Opportunity
As China is becoming more open to western influence and culture, room is created for western professionals and for entrepreneurs to penetrate the market. Even industries and businesses that are very known in the west are sometimes not known in China, and the hunger that Chinese people have for foreign influence can supply growth. Such is the case, for example, for foreign foods, nightlife clubs and bars, and other entertainment businesses that are popping up like mushrooms after the rain; Foreigners who recognize that China is in a very special transition stage in which a vast range of opportunities is available to them, will profit from the transition.