22 August 2023
North Asia CAPE supported 10 business leaders representing New Zealand’s diverse services sectors to travel to China in August 2023.
The aim of the study tour was to expose the group to the incredible pace, depth, and demand in China for services, and to support emerging leaders to develop their skills and relationships in-market. The tour provided opportunities for potential collaboration, learning, and network creation.
Below is a collection of our LinkedIn and other social media posts highlighting key parts of the study tour.
Day1 North Asia CAPE’s services-sector tour to China began with the group visiting the Great Wall on their first day — a great way to recover from jet lag. This was followed by a dinner meeting with David Mahon and Jessie Sui from Mahon China. David has been in China since 1984, and the firm is one of the longest-established foreign-owned investment and advisory firms on the Chinese Mainland.
Day2 Our services-sector delegation visited the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing and met Ambassador H.E. Grahame Morton, who gave the group an overview of the NZ-China relationship. We then had a roundtable discussion with representatives of NZ Inc. based in Beijing. In the afternoon we visited a film-industry creative zone and met two major Chinese film production companies: Fulai Moshi and Feel Fine.
Day3 Kuaishou is one of China’s most popular video content sharing platforms. Our services-sector delegation had a tour through Kuaishou’s eco-friendly workspace and visited their live streaming studio. In the afternoon, Professors Liu Shusen and Liu Hongzhong from the New Zealand Centre at Peking University hosted us for a tour around the campus of one of China’s longest established (in 1898) and most prestigious universities.
Day 4 After a five-hour high speed train ride from Beijing, our services-sector group reached Shanghai and headed straight to Les Mills China. Brian Ji gave us an overview of the evolving fitness market and Les Mills International’s innovations in China.
Day 5 In the morning we were warmly welcomed at the New Zealand Consulate in Shanghai. We had a wide-ranging exchange with Consul-General Ardi Barnard 鲍晓笛, Deputy Consul-General Wilson Chau and Trade Commissioner Richard Dunsheath, followed by a roundtable discussion with several NZ firms, organised by the New Zealand Business Roundtable in China (NZBRiC).
In the afternoon our group visited Beijing Hearst Advertising Co. Ltd Shanghai Branch (publisher of ELLE, Super ELLE, ELLEDECO) where we learned about how it has created a multimedia platform across many domains, including fashion, youth culture, lifestyle, diversity, and sustainability. We ended the day in the Huamu district of Pudong, where we were hosted by local officials and given a tour through a community services centre.
Day 6 The group spent a full day touring Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao free trade zone, and met local association leaders. Established in 1990, Waigaoqiao is one of the world’s largest free trade zones and a primary hub for international trade and logistics, attracting businesses with benefits like tax incentives and simplified customs procedures. It is home to thousands of international and local companies.
Day 7 The last stop of our tour was Hangzhou, which is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Our group gained valuable insights into China’s domestic tourism industry, before heading back to Shanghai Pudong Airport for the long flight home.
Here’s a glimpse of our participants’ reflections.
The economic powerhouses of Super Tier 1 cities (Shanghai 上海, Beijing 北京, Guangzhou 广州, and Shenzhen 深圳) are like roaring engines of export for New Zealand. Local governments are key drivers of exponential economic growth – building relationships with them is the key.
“China Speed” is no joke. The pace of change (across everything from consumer trends to regulatory settings to societal behaviours) is truly out the gate. And Western companies that can’t (or won’t attempt to) keep up will not last. The key takeaway here? Anyone entering the Chinese market needs to go in with an open mind and prepare to *constantly* be challenged — what works today probably won’t work in a few months’ time so you best get ready for constant innovation and adaptation.
Madeleine Hakaraia de Young
One thing really stood out to me – a table at the Globe Hub – a commercial product exhibition in Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone. In this massive exhibition space with beautiful displays from all over the world, Aotearoa had a simple table with honey, avocado oil, wine, and milk products. For our greatest export partner, our offer in China is brief. But on that same table was a copy of the Lonely Planet – you can see it below. In such a busy and fast-moving environment, trends and tastes change rapidly, but one thing that will always be unique to Aotearoa and of interest to the world is toi Māori.
The Chinese are masters at making the efficient more efficient!
There is so much opportunity in the Chinese market, but you have to do your homework before trying to enter it – it’s very different to NZ!
Digital service businesses thrive when you create a digital community of loyal service consumers who spread your brand!
Any impressions I had about China were blown out of the water and I have returned home filled with gratitude for the life experience, the insights and the growth both professionally and personally. Their work ethic is second to none, their cities felt green and safe, and I have been reminded of how huge this world is and how we can all make an impact in our chosen fields if we get cracking!