Huawei Stories: Pioneers, ed. Tian Tao and Yin Zhifeng

Second paragraph of third chapter (“A London Courtship”, by Victor Zhang):

This ‘London courtship’ helped us to get our foot in the door of the European sector, and was a milestone in Huawei’s progress into the global markets.

I attended a reception hosted by Huawei a few months ago, and they kindly handed out two books of essays by Huawei staff, of which this is the first. It opens with an introductory paean of praise for Huawei’s wonderful corporate culture, but then settles down into a series of first-person accounts by young Chinese people working in different cultures.

The growth of China is possibly the most important global economic trend right now, and I really did find it interesting to get this insight into some of the people who are making it happen. About half of the accounts are set in Africa, where those of us who have paid attention have noted the huge growth in Chinese investment over the last twenty years or so. Several stories emphasise the importance of access to Chinese food for company morale (one contributor was the chef of the Huawei office in Côte d’Ivoire). There is a memorably grim account of being stuck in Iceland (apart from anything else, Icelandic hairdresses were unable to cope with Chinese hair). The most spectacular chapter tells how a Huawei base station was set up in Medog County, Tibet, where there were no roads and every single piece of equipment had to be carried in by porters – I guess the landscape is too extreme for four-footed transport.

It is slightly propagandistic, but it is a fascinating insight into an important part of what’s going on in our world today. It was at the top of my pile of books by non-white writers; next on that pile is the other Huawei book, Explorers. If you want, you can get it here.