In my personal experience, the most shocking part is the lack of openness to Western culture many regions of China face. I was sitting in a product development meeting with my colleagues and was telling an anecdote about Spider-Man expecting that they would be able to relate however I was met with mainly blank stares and if I could draw cartoon question marks over their heads, I would have. Only recently have the Spider-Man movies from Marvel been released in the Mainland however they did not grow up with the cartoon and comics like we did in the West. Every year the Mainland has a strict quota on the amount of foreign films and content it shows in it's movie theatres and TV stations. So the irony is that the largest emerging market in the world with the world's largest audience and consumers lags behind in brand recognition and awareness of certain brands we would consider evergreens in Western society.
Another examples is when I was at the major consumer products show in Shanghai, I expected to see a lot more licensed properties at the show but there were very few branded statements. Instead it was a show to walk for great sourcing opportunities and generic product.
This is an extremely important point for me as I often have to evaluate potential properties for licensing or distribution opportunities. While I have my experience with certain brand and their heritage from the West, all that knowledge gets tossed out the window and you have to start again to find out what kind of penetration a brand has in the China market. The toy industry is just being developed in domestic Mainland with less than a decade of history. This was one of the most difficult things to adapt to in my new life working over here.