IT’S one of the fastest growing economies in the world and recently 30 students from Shepparton, Albury, Bendigo and Bundoora campuses of La Trobe University had the opportunity to study some of China’s top companies and combine a little tourism as well.
Initially over 100 students applied and George Adams of Shepparton was one of the successful 30 that went.
The idea was to give the university students a chance to see firsthand marketing and business management in a top growth environment.
Flying into the capital, Beijing their first visit was to the University of Finance and Economics where they attended lectures on China’s GDP and international trade.
They also visited Baidu, China’s equivalent of Google, Google itself is banned in China so Baidu controls the internet and restricts social media but does provide their own version of Facebook called ‘We Chat.’
George says that We Chat has now caught on big time in the US but has not made it to Australia as yet.
Now for some tourism, yes they made it to the Silk Market. George bought up large on jumpers. It was the middle of winter with top temps of only 5 degrees.
They saw the Great Wall and it was awesome George said but the climb to the towers was quite steep.
Next the Forbidden City and it was huge. The throne pagoda still displays the emperor’s throne from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty and you can see the emperor’s apartments and passageways where servants scurried along to serve the elite.
Next they visited Old Beijing with its ancient houses built 500 years ago, still inhabited by families.
And the Summer Palace, George said you can see why it would have been a special place for the Emperors in Summer, with its beautiful painted buildings and garden walkway and a huge lake, but it was winter and the lake frozen over.
Now back to business, during a series of lectures at the university they studied economics, investments and how to deal with local business and the very much needed Guanxi or saving ‘face,’ you could spend years getting to know someone before gaining their full trust.
They visited Weber Shanwick, an online marketing company specialising in western companies like Nike and McDonalds, both very big in China but not as big as KFC.
They boarded the bullet train to Shanghai. Travelling at 325kph it takes just 6 hours to get there.
George says the bullet train was quite new, very clean, and made the journey very exciting as you passed rural china.
In Shanghai a tour of the city’s financial centre, the building they visited went up 100 stories and the view was spectacular, the financial company at the top was run by a Japanese firm.
George found Shanghai to be very western compared to Beijing and there were a lot of expats, particularly in the financial sector.
They looked over a huge steelworks where Australian iron ore was converted into part of China’s 800 million tonnes of steel each year, and a visit to the Volkswagen plant where they have just built their 10 millionth car.
Another ride on the bullet train back to Beijing, as part of a real estate lecture they are told that land in Beijing can sell for AUD$10,000 per square metre.
Then an interesting lecture on how China gets away with knock off brands. We have Burger King (Hungry Jacks) and they have Cheese Burger, instead of Pizza Hut it’s Pizza HuH, and instead of Apple it’s Xiaomi.
The interesting thing is that both Apple and Xiaomi are made in the same factory, Xiaomi use a different phone cover, their phones are sold to the locals for just $100 making them the third biggest operator in the world.
Back in Shepparton, George and his fellow students have filed an assignment on what they experienced in China.
George says it was very interesting, lots of hard work but also lots of fun.
Until Next Time,