A big thank you to Dr Beata Froehlich, the Dean of Marbella’s International University Centre (MIUC) for inviting TTIP back to present to their students. Great to return to the beautiful surroundings of Marbella, Spain to talk to MIUC’s international business students about ‘Doing Business in China’. And thanks to all the students for their enthusiasm and interest. Nice to know my 6 years living there was useful for something!
I have spent the last 20 years of my career travelling to China and right across Asia on business, including over 6 years living there. Whilst based in China I was involved in building several factories and starting numerous joint venture businesses, so I picked up a good understanding of the many challenges and opportunities of doing business there for Westerners.
In my lecture to MIUC's students, I started by covering the economic background of China, explaining the incredible growth experienced in the country over the last 30 years, and the recent slowdown, illustrating the economics with examples of how the growth is highly visible in the massive infrastructure projects across the country, the ceaseless building of skyscrapers in every major city, and the incredible digital transformation that has swept Chinese society in the last few years.
I was fortunate to live in a wonderful city called Dalian, in the North East of China. I nicknamed Dalian ‘The Biggest City You’ve Never Heard Of’, and this has become the title of my forthcoming book on life as an expat, due for publication later this year. My lecture explained the role of Dalian as host to the Summer Davos World Economic Forum and used the city as a great example of how many major, ultra-modern cities in Asia are virtually unknown in the West.
Using real world examples from the factory projects, joint venture negotiations and numerous business start-ups that I was involved with in China, I highlighted the many challenges that Western businessmen experience in trying to take their Western style of doing business to China and explained how to deal with them. Political involvement, a different approach to drawing up legal contracts, and Chinese style negotiation techniques were all covered in depth during the talk, which also explored some of the day-to-day cultural challenges that Westerners experience when living in China. Hopefully MIUC's students now better understand the importance of having a flexible approach, respecting other people's points of view and building long term relationships in their future careers in international business.