P, R and C - three seemingly random letters from the alphabet but which, put together as I write this week, have some interesting meanings.
In the first instance, PRC is of course the key set of initials leading people in many parts of the world to focus on the celebrations in China, as the People's Republic celebrates its 60th Anniversary. A number of friends are already in Beijing waiting for 1 October, to be present and to experience the atmosphere - although I suspect the visuals may actually be better experienced on the television. Wonder if the celebrations will be shown in Dubai, where I am headed?
Of course, feelings about the whole event - the cost, the scale, the symbolism and the multiple messages it sends - are already subject to much scrutiny and interpretation. I have not met anyone yet who is ambivalent about it, from university professors to taxi drivers and hairdressers (okay, barber in my case!), from Americans to Chinese, Australians and Africans - everyone it seems. From the overly optimistic to the prejudicially pessimistic. And the media for once is very mixed; some actually with glowing positive reports as to what all this means for the future - "balanced" by the downright scary.
China has spent lavishly on a couple of events in the last few years, what with the Olympics and now this parade. And we will never know the exact amounts. But when was the last occasion they spent like this? Maybe 20 years ago when they celebrated their 40th? Let’s remember that China operates its calendar under a sexagenary cycle, meaning that 60 is a particularly important milestone as calendars go. Yes some (or all) of that money could have been used for other purposes and yes, China is not perfect in so many ways. But I would argue it has improved dramatically certainly in the last 30 and is continuing to do so. It is probably one of the only economies in the world today that has some growth – having avoided some of the excesses suffered by its so called “developed” teachers and advisers. Why not have a party, and lighten up a little?
It is always interesting to me that people are quick to be critical of China, who take some pride in their nationalism. Is it possible that the Americans are any less nationalistic, or the Thais or the Singaporeans? As I wrote earlier, China Is not perfect. Its government does things that interfere with civil liberties but you cannot tell me that such issues are not present in the countries mentioned above. Oh, and they all have another thing in common - the death penalty. What a civilized world in which we live!
China is celebrating 60 years in a way they know best. It's a country that has 1.3bn people - of course there's going to be a cast of thousands. At least people can take a little ownership and say that they were a part of it.
Whether it suits us or not, we have to get used to the idea that China is a part of the world in which we live, and will be around for many more lifetimes. Perhaps the time will come when the world is going to need China's help somehow, and they'll have every right to turn around and say - why should we? But they won't, because that's not how they play their game.
Returning to the alphabet, where I started, not only is PRC in the news this week, but for me P and R are also in the news – and just happens to involve C too. Lost?
Public Relations are an important part of our world today. It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 company, or an individual – PR is all around you.
The announcements made by HSBC at the end of last week concerning the relocation of the Group Chief Executive to Hong Kong were a real PR coup in my opinion. Coming just one week before the 60th Anniversary, the timing was perfect. The return home, in many ways, provides a ringing endorsement that Asia in general and China in particular is seriously important as far as the economic future of the world is concerned.
I have received many requests from journalists seeking my opinion on the move and on a number of the ramifications surrounding the decisions but I think I had better keep them to myself, other than to say, “Welcome home”!
And before I leave PR. I hope you noticed the announcement last week that the China Investment Corporation (CIC) has invested a substantial sum of money into Noble. That, coming on the back of a rating agency upgrade, saw a lot of positive PR for a company with which I am happy to be associated.
Finally, I had to smile at a smart (paraphrased) response from the eloquently elegant Madam Fu Ying, Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom that I saw on a news channel yesterday who, when asked by a British reporter whether the next 60 years might see a change in China, leading to giving people the vote said, “You mean, copy the way you do things?” Touché Madam.
All in all, a pretty good week for P, R and C – and happy birthday to a Sixty Year Old from an Over Sixty!