Ahead of the Chinese New Year, China was very much a topic of discussion this week at Harvard Business School, where I attended and participated in a seminar for global CEOs.

From eight in the morning until midnight, 150 fellow chief executives and I studied and debated a number of case studies in leadership, marketing, finance and government reform. It was humbling to be in the company of so many world-class leaders and professors from all over the globe.

The week-long event took place in Harvard’s Tata Hall, named after Ratan N. Tata, the Indian businessman and global investor. Today the snow fell hard in Boston, and I was lucky to fly out on American Airlines.

Among the distinguished speakers during the seminar was former Secretary of the Treasury and Harvard President Emeritus Larry Summers, whom I found both articulate and witty. Mr. Summers led us in a discussion of three countries presently undergoing reform—Colombia, Italy and China.

Colombia seeks tax reform and a peace resolution with FARC, the extremist rebel group, whereas Italy—led by Matteo Renzi, the country’s youngest-ever prime minister—strives to streamline bureaucracy and socialist unionism, which has constricted job creation. Its young people are currently struggling with a dismal 40 percent unemployment rate.

As for China, it has plans to deepen economic reforms to facilitate foreign investment. On countless occasions, the Asian giant has proven itself a dynamic nation, and today it continues to go through dramatic changes. No one can deny that challenges lie ahead, but huge opportunities still abound.

With this in mind, I’ve put together 10 figures to know as China enters a new year.


As the ninth animal in China’s 12-zodiac cycle, the monkey is considered confident, curious and a great problem-solver. But 2016 is also the year of the Fire Monkey, which adds a layer of strength and resilience.

2.9 Billion

It’s been called the world’s largest annual human migration. “Chunyun,” or the Spring Festival, refers to the period around the Chinese New Year when people travel by plane, train and automobile to visit friends and family. Between January 21 and March 3, nearly 3 billion trips will be made, exceeding the number of Chinese citizens. Close to 55 million of these trips are expected to be made by air.

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