First day of lecture, we had the outstanding opportunity to attend a lecture by David Gosset. The key take away for me was his emphasis on the Chinese Re-Emergence. This would shape my views for the rest of my trip. He posited that, compared to other third world country that are currently emerging, the Chinese saw themselves as coming back to their rightful place of power. This is a completely different mindset from a country who is trying to establish themselves to a country who is reclaiming its prime spot. This mindset and attitudes permeates though the Chinese culture deeply. On a personal note, it was invigorating to have a good conversation with David in French (due to my Mauritian background, I am fluent in French) and we exchanged views and opinions around the next big market in the world.
We also had the opportunity to listed to Dr Bruce McKern who discussed at great length about the innovations that are happening in China, and how China is moving from imitation to true innovation. I found it ironic how a country that flourished from imitation and complete and utter disregard to copyright, and is now contemplating it as a true problem to solve as it begins its journey towards creating Intellectual Property itself. We also discussed what it means to be “fit for China”, which is something I deciced then that I would take with me when I visited my client in the next few days.
On the next day, Peter Arkell gave us a perspective on what it was like for him to conduct business in China. It became clear that China operates on a different set of assumptions than the west, and it would spell disaster either for a Chinese company going global or a global company entering China if those differences in assumptions are not understood.
And finally, we also had a lecture by a Fudan University Lecturer, a Chinese himself on the international relations and geopolitics of China. He did not mince his words. He was speaking to a crowd of future business leaders of Australia (that’s us) and he had a message to get across. He challenged our views around democracy vs communism, and drew parallels with Iraq, and discussed whether a 20-yr communist government was better able to plan long term than a 4 year democratic government that is planning for the next election. He was not against democracy, but more so, made the point that China was a different country that operated on different rules. Therefore, while communism may not work in the west, it was, according to him, what China needed and what has helped China get from where it was to where it is now. It was hard to argue this point. While I may not agree with everything he said, I kept an open mind and welcomed the differing views that challenged my own ways of thinking and preconceptions.