Aside from the obvious networking and news opportunities the trip would provide, I was particularly excited about the prospect of snagging a few bargains in the high-tech stores around the city. With a favorable exchange rate and access to one of the most innovative and advanced electronics markets in the world, I made sure I converted plenty of currency.
Despite major jetlag upon arrival, I had a few hours to kill before my first few meetings, and found myself gesticulating wildly to a passing taxi driver, urging him to take me to the city center. I roamed the streets, taking in the spectacular skyline - the bulbous Pudong Tower, the looming skyscrapers and massive illuminated signage I'd seen so often in the movies.
It wasn't long before I was accosted by a guy at a dodgy-looking stall, pleading with me to take a look at his "quality" goods. Other pushy street vendors made similar offers, which I respectfully declined. I'd heard from a fellow journalist back home about the risks of buying items in some parts of the city; counterfeiting is still rife in China. So I did business only in legitimate stores, the ones that provided receipts and offered a selection of items bearing all the leading brand names.
Sadly, someone I was with was not so lucky. Returning home, the large capacity computer memory stick they'd bought corrupted all their data, their DVDs didn't play properly and their selection of branded clothing barely made it through the laundry in one piece.
These were bought from what appeared to be reputable dealers, but it's still pretty easy to fall foul of unscrupulous vendors in China. Earlier this month, the World Trade Organization (WTO) hoped to address the situation by ruling that China should ease its restrictions on imported goods. The BBC website commented that, "China's current limitations on the import of official US DVDs and other media products has created a large domestic counterfeit industry."
My friend would have probably considered a return visit if the WTO had acted a little sooner.
(Photo credit: d'n'c)