In the digital age where we see news as it happens (internet TV), write it ourselves or just make it up (social media) or can access content from thousands of channels it is surprising how little we know about China, the largest country in the world! 
I was fortunate to be invited to present the opening Keynote address at a recent conference in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. Roughly the 20th largest city in China, it has a population just shy of that of London. I had never travelled to China before but have of course met many Chinese students studying in the UK at Lancaster University.
I wanted to share some of what struck me on that trip as different to everyday life in the UK, for the benefit of people planning on doing business in China.
The Chinese love their apps. They have apps for everything including renting an umbrella from outside your hotel and renting a battery pack to charge your phone. I’m not sure how you rent the battery pack once your battery is completely dead though. And if you want to buy food or gifts from a street seller or to order or pay for a taxi then you need an app for that too.
I don’t mean you can pay by an app like in the UK if you want (Apple pay etc). I mean they don’t want cash, and won’t have change so you probably cannot pay without an app. This is a problem if you are not with a guide as unfortunately you cannot set up WeChat pay or Alipay (the two most popular) if you don’t have a Chinese bank account.
WeChat is the dominant platform and can be used to pay for taxis, book flights, update your friends and exchange business cards. If you want to make contacts in China you need to be on WeChat. And you should expect to pay for it. We Chat isn’t free like your favourite social media apps in the UK.
Was not a top priority. I saw plenty of 2.4 children families all sharing the same moped, not one of them wearing a helmet! Off the highways the roads were as bad as ours in the UK, only it is harder to miss potholes when you are driving whilst glued to your phone playing the latest trendy game.
And don’t think you will be safe on a walkway, the mopeds and cyclists treat a pedestrian area as somewhere they can go faster as there are less cars.
Speaking of mopeds they are all electric. The only two stroke engine I heard was on a leaf blower. I spotted a fair few electric cars (Nissan, Tesla etc) too. I expect this will be a huge growth area in China as they try to tackle their poor record on emissions and sustainability.
The people were incredibly warm, welcoming and were fantastic hosts. As you would expect they like to give and receive gifts (wrap in red tissue paper for brownie points, its lucky) and the exchange of business cards and connections on We Chat are somewhat ceremonial.
You should always try and shake hands with the most senior person first. And expect things to be quite last minute. On several occasions I was asked to give a presentation or talk or indeed lead a student seminar with no notice whatsoever.
I had an amazing experience in China and I really hope I can go back to see more of the country. They have certainly embraced subscription and rental business models. I know it has been said before but the pace of change there is amazing. So expect to be leasing a Chinese electric car in a few years.
 See you didn’t even question me there. China has the largest population but Russia is the largest country in the world.
Jon Powell is Head of Enterprise and Innovation Services at Lancaster University, Chair of Enterprise Educators UK and a Director of Employer Solutions Ltd and Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce.