BEIJING --The frenzied atmosphere in the 10th-floor ballroom of the Hunan Hotel had little to do with the presence of the vice minister of commerce or the governor of California.
For more than a hundred business people and low-level bureaucrats from around China, this was a chance to meet new American business contacts. And that meant handing out business cards -- lots and lots of business cards.
To the uninitiated, be forewarned – Chinese professionals share cards with missionary-like zeal. Strangers aggressively introduce themselves to tell you about their work and expect you to do the same.
Think speed dating.
The dozens of California business officials traveling with Gov. Jerry Brown were fresh meat for their eager Chinese counterparts. Aspiring developers from Guangzhou, bureaucrats from Chongqing, mid-level managers from Nanjing all buzzed about the room, delivering the cards in the ritualized way that is custom here.