About Those Brands

It was the Mickey and Minnie Mouse red and pink rolling suitcases that first caught my eye as what seemed like the entire population of Beijing headed to baggage claim. Then I saw the two children that were accompanying the bags and their parents. As we waited for the trains to the exit hall, I had a chance to notice a bit more about what the parents were rolling.

The bags had “KU” stickers on them and some American flags. The husband was carrying his book sack that proclaimed: “A proud member of the Kansas University Alumni Association.”

A few years from now, I bet I know where at least one of the children would be heading.

As powerful and as universally appealing as the Disney brand is, U.S. higher education must surely trump it in a country like China.

A quick read of today’s China Daily makes it clear just how important education and access to foreign universities appears to be. About a third of the paper, in fact, had articles on education and the welcome mats that higher Ed authorities in Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand were preparing for Chinese students. The latest development seemed to be the acceptance by these and a number of other countries of the Chinese national entrance exam scores in lieu of other standardized testing.

There was one cultural article about the United States. It referred to the internet binge viewing now happening in Beijing of “House of Cards.” The writer drew attention to the lessons about corruption from the series as a good reminder for the thousands of delegates to the National People’s Congress that starts next week.

So when I thought about all the brands I saw and read about in the past 12 hours and what they might mean for the future of china and our relations with this country, I know which I am hoping will have the greatest impact. Go Jayhawks.