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This blog wishes it be known that the opinions presented herein are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not represent the feelings, opinions, ideas, or conclusions of any affiliated organization or group. Additionally, the author has chosen to keep the blog confidential during the Olympic Games 2008, as the reaction of the PRC towards foreign opinion remains ungauged. Thanks for reading.
Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Golden Arches : A Continued Growth view of 2019 Beijing

FASTFueling New China -- 2019, Beijing, China

Ah yes...McDonald's.
Those golden arches probably sum up "New China" as well as any multi-cultural icon here in Beijing. And now they are more prolific than ever.

I recall a few years back, during the global financial crisis of a decade ago, trolling the depths of Usenet, looking for digitized books, in an effort to build a database for a project of mine, and coming across a title header that I thought at the time was just ludicrous. "Hooray for deficit spending and the 2019 89.95 Mcdonald's value meal" wrote one poster of digital literacy guides. Most of the books contained under this header were reference guides for web development and computer programming, but who was to know that the poster's prediction of price inflation would be so accurate.

The only mistake that he made was assuming that 89.95 stood for US Dollars and not the mighty Chinese Yuan. Walking down the main sponsorship street of the Beijing Olympic Games, my hunger was piqued and I stepped inside McDonald's Olympic flagship restaurant. The largess of the facility would have overwhelmed me a decade ago, but now it seems the norm for most western fast food chains.

Four floors tall with two fully staffed order lines (each with over 30 registers) and throngs of people waiting in line for some of the best "valued" meals in town. Yep...89.95 quai will get you a large veg-burger, large fries, and large soft drink, and compared to the 60-100 yuan bowl of limp rice noodles, it tastes pretty damn good.

Though the inflation of the yuan has been at the forefront of some global banking report for the last two years, China's central bank has had a difficult regulating the flow of new cash into the system. The stricter the regulations become on cash, the more credit markets seem to be opening up, and the availability of a beginners credit cards has this nation's fragile central bankers quaking.

When China declared that it would assist the international banking crisis of 07-09 by investing billions into the failing banks of Europe and the U.S. the surge in open banking opportunities between China and other parts of the world accelerated at an astounding rate. The resulting in flux of "credit" allowed foreign banks to finally begin issuing credit cards to Chinese nationals, who have been some of their bast customers of the decade.

McDonald's, one of the largest outside investors in mainland China, with close ties to the agriculture structure of the PRC, was one of the first companies to extend a banking card to its loyal customers. Their virtual control of huge swaths of Chinese farmlands, and China's increasing shift towards bio-fuel as its main source of energy, has propelled the fast food chain to the heights of global success. Their filling stations, pumping out McDiesel at an ever increasing pace, have led to a big shift in the nation's monetary and power structure.

The "Green Arches" as they have become known in many parts of Asia, have continued to supply the continent's bio-diesel filling stations with the highest grade and most reliable product since the first batch opened in 2012. Their initial surge into alternative energy, and the consistency with which their filling stations have been able to supply demand, have given McDonald's Energy Consortium (MEC) a whopping 80% of market share across China. Its stocks are soaring and its continual growth has been one of the foundations for the last decade of Chinese development.

As the leaders atop those golden arches pull critical strings in the world's largest consumer market, a new form of regulatory governing has begun to emerge here in the PRC. The openness of McDonald's industry strategies to public inquiry has endeared them to the masses, who keep coming through those revolving doors with greater frequency. With such a huge demand they are able to out-bid, out-produce, and out-service, a majority of the small independent eateries of the nation. And their advertising campaigns reach far more computer screens, cell phones, and billboards than those of the competition (and even the CCP).

So sitting down to my 89.95 two cheesburger-facsimile meal, and reflecting on the separate paths that got me and this meal to my table has become quite an exercise in recollection. I will sign off for a while, choosing to enjoy my meal without "Big Brother" watching every jaw movement, and recording every audible response to the taste. I will log back in after lunch, and report more from the FastFood policy makers of 2019 soon.


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