Asia on a roll

Asia on a roll

Summary: An American multinational recently launched a new facility in Asia, and reporters were invited to cover the event graced by executives from its corporate headquarters. This was its first facility outside its home turf.

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TOPICS: China
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An American multinational recently launched a new facility in Asia, and reporters were invited to cover the event graced by executives from its corporate headquarters. This was its first facility outside its home turf.

As it was the launch of an Asian facility, one would expect Asian journalists to get the news first. But much to my dismay, I was appalled to see news coverage of the opening on one of ZDNet Asia's sister sites, hours before I was supposed to head off to the event in a taxi.

When I asked the company's Asian corporate communications officer for an explanation, she blamed it on some miscommunication with the corporate head office which was not supposed to leak the news until the Asian event was over.

While I've heard countless times from tech companies about the importance of Asia to their business, my feeling is that they're only paying lip service.

There are not many global product launches coming from this part of the world, or some say, the Far East--a term that smacks of colonialism and the Anglo-Saxon worldview.

It is this view that pretty much governs how businesses approach Asian markets. But that's slowly changing, and the rest of us in Asia have China to thank.

The rise of China, in particular, has led the Americans to sit up and take notice of Southeast Asia, which U.S. policymakers had been reluctant to engage.

However, former U.S. Deputy General of State Richard Armitage noted last week that the rise of China has redirected U.S. attention to the region, whose 600-million population with a combined GDP of US$800 billion cannot be underestimated.

At a recent forum staged by IBM Singapore, Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, noted that civilizations go through a phase of glory, decline and revival.

China was, at one point in history, the most advanced civilization in the world. The Chinese invented paper, followed by the printing press, and not forgetting gunpowder and the compass.

During the 15th century, Admiral Zheng He made seven voyages with a fleet that was seven times bigger than Christopher Columbus'. The Chinese junks displaced more than 3,000 tons, far more than any European vessel at that time.

With the rise of China and India, the wheels that elevated Asian civilizations to glory are spinning again.

While it's nice to hear that IBM launched a major product in China recently, and that Microsoft has a huge research facility in Beijing, other tech companies need to buck up in communicating the importance of Asia to their business.

Yes, Asia' s on a roll. But mindsets must change fast, or risk falling behind.

Topic: China

About

Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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