Pursuing the American Dream in China

Because the Olympics are in China, you’ve probably noticed an increase of stories and news segments with a China focus occupying the airways. For example, The Today Show on NBC is looking at China from a variety of angles.

One story, presented Monday, illustrated just how fluid the world’s economy can be and how there is an interchange between cultures as a result. For example, if you head to China, you can find an Auntie Anne’s, an American franchise that specializes in soft pretzels.

The Auntie Anne’s in Beijing was started by a Chinese American couple whose parents had immigrated to the United States as a way to make a better life for themselves and their children. This couple moved to China to open China’s first Auntie Ann’s after researching what would work in China and realizing that the enterprise was a way to seize a profitable opportunity. They discovered that one way to make money in another country is to export a popular, established brand.

As the segment illustrated, some Chinese Americans are returning to China as a way to make a better life for themselves. One motivation, in addition to making money, is to learn Chinese and also to learn more about the culture of their heritage-something they often pooh-poohed as they were growing up.

As the segment noted, most plan to return to the United States once the money has been made. It’s not that they have an issue with life in the U.S., they are going after financial opportunity in the country where their parents were born.

If you look at the history of the Silk Road, and how goods and services moved from Asia to Europe and from Europe to China centuries ago, the pattern in similar. Now, though, soft pretzels are part of the scenery.