David Thomas: Australian Trade Mission in China

David Thomas David-Thomas.jpg , our BRIC expert, has just returned from his Australian Trade Mission to the second tier cities of China. The delegation explored 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 delegation talked with local Government officials, businesses, entrepreneurs and investors hoping to build connections with Australia. Below please find his observations during the Trade Mission:

Guangzhou – full of surprises
4 August, 2011 10:59 PM

The Australia China 2.0 Mission kicked off today in Guangzhou, and a group of over 100 Australians (the largest ever Australian delegation in China) has now completed the first leg of this 6 day mission to China’s emerging cities. As the third largest city in China, Guangzhou could not be described as anything other than a “first tier” city, with its striking mix of dazzling skyscrapers, modern iconic landmarks (the Guangzhou Opera House was particularly impressive) and industrial centres. However, having been a regular traveller to Guangzhou in the past, I am amazed by its transformation in only the last 3 years. When I lived in Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s, Guangzhou was always regarded as a bit of a “dump”. A crowded, polluted and often dangerous city in which you spent as little time as necessary and stopped on the way to somewhere else. But, as a result of the recent Asian Games, the city has been completely transformed into a clean, green and modern metropolis, with wide and open highways, manicured gardens and the sparkling Pearl River running through the centre. I even heard today (not yet validated) that you can drink the water from the Pearl River…something that would never have been entertained in the past!

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Changsha – a window into the future
5 August, 2011 5:33 PM

With good friends, Christopher Wright (China Country Manager for Austrade and Mission Leader) and Michael Wadley (Head of China Practice, Blake Dawson) on the bus in Changsha

Another Chinese city and another spanking new airport! This one, in the city Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, was officially opened only two weeks ago (not just because of us apparently!) and looks as good as any other Chinese airport I have seen (which includes a few) and leaves a great impression of a thriving metropolis the moment you step off the plane.

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Wuhan – a transport and logistics hub
6 August, 2011 4:02 PM

If you draw a line from the North to South of China between Beijing and Guangzhou, and then another from East to West between Shanghai and Chongqing (the largest city in China and the focus of our visit on Tuesday) the point at which these two lines intersect is the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in central China. Not surprisingly, Wuhan has become China’s transportation and logistics hub with extensive plans to upgrade and extend a vast network of roads, railways, airports and waterways.

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Chengdu – Go West!
8 August, 2011 9:37 AM

Here in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in western China, the financial turmoil being experienced around the world seems a long way away! As I look out of my hotel room and review the intense building and construction activity, not to mention the large numbers of people, cars, shops and restaurants, you can’t help thinking that China is running its own race. There are certainly no signs of any economic slowdown in western China, quite the opposite in fact, and as we listen and speak to Government officials and local businesses, it is very clear that they see no obstacle to meeting or exceeding their own ambitious growth targets. China will continue its extraordinary economic growth path for the next 20 years and the challenge for everyone is to figure out how to participate.

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Chongqing – the powerhouse of western China!
9 August, 2011 4:10 PM

It has certainly been an enlightening and interesting visit to Chongqing. I had been looking forward to this part of the Mission for some time, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my already high expectations!

Dropping in and out of a city of 30 million people, in western China, a city that nobody had heard of until recently, and hearing of their vast and far reaching development plans to transform themselves into a modern first tier city, was an almost out of body experience, and I am already getting excited at the prospects of coming back to do more exploring.

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Shanghai – a modern first tier city
10 August, 2011 6:34 AM

After spending the last week exploring western China, and their emerging 2nd tier cities, its nice to come back to Shanghai to see where it all began. Shanghai is the last stop on our Australia China 2.0 Trade Mission and, having travelled to 6 cities in the last 7 days, it will take some time for me to work out exactly what I make of it all. I must have collected and given out over 300 business cards over the last week, and the characteristics and attributes of each city are already starting to blur!

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Contact us at +852 2165 4126 or info@speakersconnect.com should you wish to engage David for your next event on his insights on China / BRIC.