In the Fall of 2016, I spent a month in China on a Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship. I visited five large cities: Beijing (Oct 14–30), Shenyang (Oct 30–31), Shenzhen (Oct 31-Nov 3), Hangzhou (Nov 3–6) and Shanghai (Nov 6–12). It was an incredible opportunity to experience a country in transition and see how an ancient culture has evolved into a socialist-market economy (a single party system with a thriving private sector.)

My Fellowship focused on Smart Cities.

My objective was to learn about China’s approach and identify best practices. I had the great fortune to meet with some amazing executives, entrepreneurs, economic development professionals, university professors and subject matter experts. In addition the other eight Zhi-Xing Fellows are just awesome, smart, FUN people. I loved learning from both Chinese and Americans who each provided so much insight and information, challenging my assumptions on every level.

Although the schedule was intense, there was time to explore each city, see historic and important sites and truly appreciate this magnificent country. Here are some (curated) highlights — both professional and recreational. A tremendous thank you to Chinese Ministry of Education, the CEAIE, the extended team that made it all possible and of course the Eisenhower Fellowships leadership (staff, board and alumni.) I now really get it that it is a family — and it’s an honor to be a part of it.


China began implementing Smart City projects as early as 2010 and so they are well on their way (and way ahead of the US). The first formal list of national Smart City pilots in China was published in January 2013 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD) and two years later, there were more than 285 pilot Smart Cities and 41 special pilot projects. The central (federal) Chinese government published a set of guiding principals that prioritized Smart Cities and encouraged all participants to speed up deployment. A National New Urbanization Plan (2014–2020) is additional proof that connected tech, 5G, IoT, and data-driven innovation are the chosen pathways forward to continue to modernize the country, move millions out of poverty, encourage global commerce and focus on sustainability. There are lots of lessons here for the US and countries around the world. If you’re interested in reading more, please take a look at the articles above and more to come.

Originally published on Digi.City

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