China is the most challenging international country to do business with

I have worked with International companies often and out of all the countries I have worked with, China is the most challenging international country to do business with.

It isn’t a surprise if you are familiar with their cultural and political landscape. Lots has been written about both the dangers and opportunities for companies who work in China. Of course the opportunities are vast: huge population undeserved by many companies, increasing wealth and prosperity, desire for Western culture. The problems are just as vast: piracy, crime, lack of accountability.

China is the most challenging international country to do business withI ran into this in doing my job as well. One of the things that IT people have to do is keep their network secure. So I discovered that hackers from China were trying to get into our system, I sent an email to their ISP to let them know of illegal activity. In most places in the world, this would be acted on and those people would be banned from their service. From China I got an apologetic, “We don’t have enforcement powers” so nothing could be done.

Another issue is the great firewall of China. It blocks many internet services, and filters information from the rest of the Internet. It is aggressively updated, and even the inventor of it has had problems with it. Unofficially people try to use VPN’s to get around it, but this is a cat and mouse game and frequently VPN’s stop working. Even if they do work, they are so slow and to be almost unusable.

As if that wasn’t enough, the speed of a legal connection is about 1 MB. This is so slow and almost unusable for most internet based things now. You can’t play a game, watch a video, or do so many things with such a slow speed. It makes research difficult, and communicating with outside companies very challenging. The traditional ways to speed up a connection like bonding or adding multiple network connections still are limited by this 1MB connection speed.

I considered suggesting a Satellite phone since that would be another network entirely, but unfortunately the fastest one I could find was only 9.6kb. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 80’s, this is the modem speed that I saw as a youth. I doubt any application would run with such a slow speed. Maybe email, but it would be practically unusable. Forget attachments, and the cost would be prohibitively expensive.

Multiple computers in this situation would help, but many people don’t feel comfortable using multiple computers. In addition, the company doesn’t want to pay for that so it’s not a real option. It is challenging to find a solution that the company and China will both be good with.

I like the challenge of IT, and its fun to find a solution.

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