Monorail to Mecca, February 11:
Hu Jintao arrived in Riyadh yesterday for a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia that is sure to feature a lot of handshakes and deal signing.
One deal in particular caught my eye: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs got together with China Railway Corporation and signed an agreement to build a monorail to link Mecca with three other holy sites: Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
The deal is worth US$1.77 billion and is expected to be built over a two-year period. No doubt the project will go a long way toward improving China’s image among Middle Eastern oil producers. It also raises a few questions, one of which is a very practical matter: Who is going to build the monorail?
Mecca remains closed to non-Muslims. Is China planning to hire exclusively from Muslim ethnic minorities?
Lenovo: Giving up and going home? February 9:
When Lenovo announced it was dumping its American CEO and refocusing its efforts on China, one had to wonder if the company regrets its purchase of IBM’s PC business. Lenovo could easily fall back on the excuse that it was a business decision. But it feels like the company is admitting defeat. As hard as it tried, it can’t replace Big Blue.
Lenovo invested millions to become the primary sponsor of the Beijing Olympics, but that didn’t make me think of Lenovo as a global brand. Instead, it felt like a Chinese brand as head sponsor for a Chinese, not global, Olympics.
It seems consumers can’t see it as a global brand either. According to the company’s 2008 interim report, for the six months ending September 30, 2008, Greater China was the source of 42% of Lenovo’s sales, with the US coming in as number two. That still doesn’t sound like a global company.