Hon. Ted Baillieu, Premier of the State of Victoria, is this week leading the largest ever trade mission to China from Australia, if not from anywhere in the world. With over 600 delegates representing 400 companies attending 2,000 business events over 5 days in over 30 cities, there is plenty going on as Victorian companies spread themselves across a wide range of industries seeking potential opportunities in China and hoping to build local relationships. I learnt last night that 40% of the delegation have never been to China before, meaning that this week is bound to have a significant impact on everyone no matter what transpires. And in a country where “big” is everything, this delegation is sure to make a big impression!
My involvement is with the Financial Services delegation which comprises around 40 delegates and represents many segments of the financial services value chain, from fund managers and investors to lawyers, accountants, IT and other service providers. We kicked off on Monday in Beijing, with a day of briefings and networking, followed by the Oriental Mining Dinner in the evening at which Ted Baillieu was the guest of honour (see above photo). As I write this blog, we are speeding at over 300 kms per hour on a bullet train to Nanjing where we will pick up the program this afternoon with a business matching event and an evening of large scale networking. Tomorrow we get on another fast train to Shanghai!
I’m pleased to say that, thanks to the wonderful Elle Wu in our office, most of the financial services delegates have taken my advice of producing bilingual marketing collateral and packing plenty of business cards (including adopting a hand-picked Chinese name, a guaranteed talking point when engaging with the locals for the first time). By my count, I’m already 50 cards down and wondering whether I packed enough!
There is a saying amongst the local expatriates in China that ‘the longer you stay in China, the less you know’! In other words, China is so complex, multi-faceted and difficult for a foreigner to understand that it becomes harder to fathom the longer you stay here.
By that measure, we'll have 600 new “China experts” by the end of this week!