Australia China 2.0


Whatever you think of Kevin Rudd, his political party or his performance as the former Prime Minister, you have to admit that, as Foreign Minister of Australia, he is definitely in the right job!

If you need any evidence of this, you must watch his speech to Asialink on Slow TV in which he articulates his ideas for a new and even more dynamic relationship with China under the catchy banner of “Australia-China 2.0”. I urge you to watch is an important and well delivered message and should be of interest to all of our readers and followers. The key points he makes are:

  • China's 12th Five Year Plan sets out a clear direction for China's economy for the next 30 years ("China 2.0") in contrast to the last 30 years ("China 1.0"). In particular, the transition from a low cost, export driven, manufacturing based economy largely dominated by the cities along the east coast to a high value, modern economy, driven predominantly by domestic consumption and a robust and world class services sector in the second tier cities (ie the 102 cities in China with a population of 5 million or more) creates opportunities which Australia cannot ignore
  • The pace of urbanisation in China, together with rising incomes, wealth, expectations and aspirations, together with the emergence of a new welfare system to provide the safety net which has been lacking in the past and is so necessary to encourage domestic consumption, creates enormous opportunities across the board in tourism, education, healthcare, financial services (the need to manage a new pensions system for over 350 million people), software, technology, cleantech, design, innovation and a wide range of other professional services
  • It is no longer good enough to say that "we're in China" if you operate only in the eastern cities of Shanghai and Beijing. The leaders of every province and city in China, including many unknown regions in the west, now have money, budgets, targets, goals and plans to develop their own cities. They are scouring the world for the very best products, capabilities, services and people to bring to China to give them a leading edge in addressing their local issues and planning. Many of them come to Australia. Smart and dynamic companies and entrepreneurs will now be thinking about how they can tap into these new opportunities by developing a strategy for the whole of China.

I will be joining the official Australian Trade Mission to the second tier cities of China next week, led by Trade Minister, Dr Craig Emerson (Kevin Rudd was coming himself but had to withdraw for health reasons) to explore the new opportunities identified in China’s 12th Five Year Plan, particularly the anticipated explosion of the services sector in China, in Tourism, Health, Education, Financial Services, Legal, Technology and a number of other areas where Australia clearly has a great deal to offer.

Over 7 days in 6 cities (starting in Guangzhou and travelling to Changsha, Wuhan, Chengdu and Chongqing before finishing in Shanghai) the mission will travel each day by a charter flight to meet and talk with local Government officials, businesses, entrepreneurs and investors hoping to build connections with Australia, and I am looking forward to building new networks, ideas and opportunities to bring back to my clients and audiences from around the world. I will be writing about my observations, insights and experiences each day in China from every city we visit, so please tune into this blog next week to find out how it’s all going.

However, for now, the last words of inspiration go to Kevin Rudd:
“In Australia, we do have a unique comparative advantage. We shouldn’t overstate it, but it does exist. It’s not just the time zone or the fact we run an open migration program. It’s not just the fact that there a large number of Chinese Australians here. These are all good things. But here we are as a country of western civilization origins lying in this exploding hemisphere called the wider East Asia. The one that within 30 or 40 years will represent half of the global economy. So if you’re looking for a country which has the capacity to interpret what is going on in China to the commercial advantage of other countries and economies around the western world (notably the USA and Western Europe) there are huge opportunities for this country to actually seize this by the throat and to go for it….by national and economic circumstances of our growing and broad familiarity with the texture and complexity of doing business and respecting cultures within our region we are well positioned ….therefore my goal for Australia is to become the most China literate country in the collective West”