Day 2: A crash course in Chinese Business

“You have to remember, Beijing has the population of Australia crammed into a space the size of Sydney.”

Monday morning in Beijing today brought with it the beginning of the business program here in China.

First stop for the day: Mahon Investments to visit David Mahon and Charlie Gao for a briefing. Both have vast experience with China and offered superb insight on contemporary business and politics throughout the region. In particular, their depth of knowledge about New Zealanders operating in the China space was invaluable, leading to a number of leads to follow up on during our time in Beijing.

Opposite Hotel was the next port of call to meet with Rodney Jones and his wife Sajini. The two run Wigram Capital, a capital advisory firm.

Learning how they manage their company from Beijing whilst maintaining the bulk of their operations in Dunedin was excellent, as it was a company structure unlike any I’d heard of before.

I always find it particularly interesting to see University of Auckland graduates doing big things on the international stage and finding out how they got to be where they are now. Rodney and Sajini were no exception and I was particularly grateful for the fantastic insight and advice they shared with me. 

The Opposite hotel was fantastic in its own right too. A flamboyant building decorated with an eclectic collection of art, this modern boutique hotel leaves a lasting impression.

The University of International Business and Economics was the final stop for the day. Prior to our meeting I took the opportunity to explore the campus and get a feel for the student culture in China. It’s radically different to anything back home! The campus is enormous and looked to house thousands of students in a bustling mini-city. 

The academics we met from the University were great, in particular the discussions we had centered on TPP, RCEP and bi-lateral trade.

TPP in particular has been an issue I’ve dedicated much of my time to lately, especially with the last round of negotiations taking place in Auckland. Getting a Chinese perspective on how they view the deal from the outside looking in so to speak, challenged my own opinions and helped me to appreciate the issues involved in a completely different way. 

Tomorrow will certainly be a hectic day. An early meeting with BECA China CEO Derek Low kicks things off before we head out to the New Zealand embassy to meet with our Ambassador to China, Carl Worker and some key members of the MFAT team on the ground here in Beijing.

A visit to the National Academy of Economic Strategy is planned for the afternoon before heading out to Sanlitun for dinner and drinks in the evening. 

We’re looking at snow throughout the day tomorrow according to the evening news, which will help in clearing the acrid smog that continues to occupy Beijing. Fingers crossed on that front.

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