It was a cold, chilly morning when we arrived in Qingdao, a major seaport, naval base and industrial centre in eastern China. This was the land of great revolutionaries like Mao Tse Tung, and Chu En Lai, great thinker philosophers like Confucius and home to arguably the greatest man made miracle – the wall of China. We, a group of media person representative of a cross section of Pakistani print and electronic media were here in Qingdao to visit a sprawling industrial complex – the birthplace and nerve centre of Haier, the world’s leading brand of home appliances.

Established some thirty years ago in 1984 as a small collective enterprise to manufacture refrigerators, Haier quickly ran in to problems. From the verge of bankruptcy to its present position of world leadership, in just three decades, Haier truly embodies the indomitable spirit of the Chinese people to overcome and prevail in the face of adversity and seemingly impossible odds. On the verge of closure Haier found inspiring leadership in the person of Zhang Ruiminits current CEO who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to inspire people in the relentless pursuit of research and development of technologies that have radically changed the pattern of everyday human existence, impacting lifestyles of peoples in households across the globe, and in the process leading the transition from the ‘art of living’ to the ‘science of smart living’.

Yes living is a science today which is embodied in the clean cut ultra modern design of Haier household appliances which proudly adorn our cooking, dining and living areas enhancing the décor and beauty of our homes and offices and most importantly bringing us a sense of ‘pride and joy’ coupled the tangible advantages of ‘time saving ease and convenience’ as we go about the business of everyday living. This is amply demonstrated in the innovative engineering design of Haier appliances like refrigerators that automatically spray Vitamin C to keep food at its freshest, ultra reliable freezers that can be opened and closed hundreds of thousands of times, air conditioners that can be operated and controlled from anywhere in the world through mobile phones and the internet, washing machines that guarantee clean, bacterial free clothing and Haier electronics which include top of the line smartphones and high resolution, high definition ‘true life, natural color’ flat panel LED/LCD television sets small enough to sit on a table or large enough to adorn a whole wall.

What has made the Haier brand stand out at the very top of the crowded home appliance segment particularly in the highly quality conscious markets of Europe and the Middle East is the company’s reliance on market driven research and development. The result is fast tracked engineering and design innovation based on literally hundreds of patents. Every Haier product comes with built in year on year reliability and innovative, advanced features like energy saving technology and environment friendly operation. The most interesting part of the visit to Haier Qingdao was the tour of the massive Haier Exhibition and Culture Centre – a virtual walk through time zones encompassing the company’s development through the decades as seen through the introduction of products over thirty years. This fascinating walk through the history of Haier’s technological development brought home with wondrous impact of how far, how fast has the brand improvised, invented, innovated and harnessed technology to bring it home to millions of households worldwide.

Today Haier’s global brand, global leadership position is further strengthened through 29 manufacturing bases and 16 industrial parks in Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. People have voted with their confidence in Haier giving the brand a 7.8pc share of the world market for household appliances, and a market leading position in Europe and Pakistan.