Richard Yan appears to have scuppered plans for a full-scale “New Zealand House” in Shanghai to host NZ’s key government agencies and companies and to showcase NZ products.
During newzealandinc.com’s recent research trip to China, informed sources said that Yan had indicated he intended to seek commercial tenants for his Shanghai building after protracted negotiations with NZ Government agencies failed to reach a swift conclusion.
Yan wasn’t responding to messages yesterday in the wake of the announcement that Mainzeal Property and Construction Limited had been placed in receivership. But it appears that there were reservations in some parts of Government over the Shanghai building’s location and the lack of consultation in the early stages. That said it is still possible that New Zealand House will proceed in a less flamboyant fashion that Yan originally planned.
Yan talked publicly last year – including at the Parliamentary Symposium to celebrate 40 years of official relations between New Zealand and the People’s republic of China – of his dream for the project and hope that John Key would open it during a proposed November trip to Shanghai. The delayed leadership transition in China saw Key’s trip postponed until this year.
The businessman registered New Zealand House China Limited at the NZ Companies office on June 18, 2012. It is 100% owned by Richina Pacific. Yan and Siew May Kwan, who is Yan’s fellow director on Richina group companies, are the two directors. He had plans to franchise the concept elsewhere in China.
Sources suggested that if Government agencies such as NZTE, MFAT, NZ Police and others moved in (along with potential corporates such as Fonterra, Air New Zealand and others) the building would have had to be managed by a “board of control.”
Yan sits on the New Zealand China Council’s executive board as chief executive of New Zealand House China Limited. He is a strong proponent of the bilateral relationship and spoke alongside the Prime Minister at the launch of the Government’s China Strategy.
Yan has talked up the NZ House concept for several years and it has found favour with several Government Ministers including Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples who was given a presentation on the proposal during a visit to Shanghai last June. A similar “NZ hub” has been spruiked by The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall.
The University of Auckland Business School has also plugged the concept describing Yan’s Richina has a”something of a surrogate government agency, with a declared focus on developing a broader range of financial, business, cultural and educational links between China and New Zealand”. To this end, it has built “New Zealand House” in Shanghai to showcase New Zealand products and act as a “home away from home” for Kiwi companies and institutions interested in accessing the Chinese market,” the university’s website notes.