During my trip, I noticed that the people of the two great metropolis of Sichuan enjoy comparing with each other. Each claim that the other is inferior, although there are also aspects that they admire each other about. Some insight into this love-hate relationship :
· Chongqingese are rude and they are loud speakers - as the Chengduese say. But my Chongqing hosts say that they are more candid, and say what they mean, unlike the Chengduese, who say what you like to hear.
· Chongqingese are more shrewd and ruthless businessman, say the Chengduese. But Chongqingese say that the Chengduese are just plain provincial.
· Chengduese feel that they are more culturally inclined but Chongqing people say that the former are just uncosmopolitan and cool.
· Chongqing girls are more fashionable and prettier - this is acknowledged even by some Chengduese.
· Chongqing food is hotter - also acknowledged by the Chengduese. But as some Chengduese say, only the crazy Chongqing people will have dishes like the lazhi ji, or chilli chicken, where one has to dig through heaps of chilli to locate tiny pieces of chicken.
Since the beginning of the reform process in China, billions of dollars have poured into China, mainly to the coastal areas. Foreign investors are only beginning to look at inland provinces like Sichuan and Yunnan. Doing business in China isn’t easy. Many companies have lost millions to hidden costs, such as lack of or unreliability of infrastructure system, ad hoc local taxes, unreliable partners, etc, and such problems amplify in an inland province like Sichuan. Does this means one shouldn’t venture into Sichuan ? I don’t think so. Despite all the talk about poor purchasing power and crippling hidden costs, Sichuan represents an enormous market of 120 million people. The vibrant shopping malls have indicated that there are people with the purchasing power. It is perhaps a matter of getting in first to establish a presence, and then to fully launch one’s marketing efforts at the appropriate time. To come in later may be too late. For manufacturers, for the next 5 years minimum, it will be difficult if not impossible to sell anything one produces in Sichuan to other parts of China (and much less the rest of the world), due to the terrible state of infrastructure. Anything produced within the province would have a viable market in this almost self-contained province. Perhaps, the national road and railway network will be more efficient in 5 to 10 years’ time, and then is the time to build the export factor into one’s manufacturing plans in the province.