Working successfully with Chinese businesses will require changes that start in our schools, says visiting China specialist Dr Martin Jacques.
He is in New Zealand to deliver the keynote address at the new New Zealand Forum on October 16, presented by Massey University and Westpac.
“If you think China is going to be your major trading partner, you will need to have a good number of New Zealanders who can speak Mandarin,” Dr Jacques says.“It’s really important. While there are lots of educated young Chinese who can speak English in major cities, being able to speak a Chinese dialect is a sign of respect, and can give you valuable intel on what’s going on.”
Fonterra’s recent botulism scare in China brought home just how important our second-largest trade partner is to the New Zealand economy – and its increasing influence on the global economy.
A renowned journalist and academic, Dr Jacques is the author of global best-seller When China Rules the World: The rise of the middle kingdom and the end of the Western world. He says New Zealand is well positioned to learn from mistakes made by European nations when doing business with Chinese firms.
University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says Dr Jacques can give New Zealanders valuable insight into how we can develop our relationships with China and the East Asian region.
“Five years ago New Zealand signed the first free trade agreement between China and a developed nation, so New Zealand is ahead of other nations in terms of doing business. Dr Jacques can share his observations on the wider aspects we need to bear in mind so that we can build fulfilling long-term relationships with our near neighbours in China and East Asia.
“At Massey University, we are committed to helping shape the future of our nation and take what is special about New Zealand to the rest of the world.”
“Westpac institutional and corporate customers are increasingly doing business with, and in, Asia. Our economies are becoming significantly inter-connected and it is vital New Zealand stays abreast of the opportunities that Asia presents,” says Westpac General Manager of Corporate and Institutional Banking, Karen Silk.
Dr Jacques says that China will be the dominant trading nation in East Asia and Asia Pacific, and will draw New Zealand and Australia into an ever-closer economic relationship which will have widespread ramifications.
“Setting up a strategic relationship requires taking a long-term view,” Dr Jacques says. “If you do business in China, you’re looking at playing a very long game in terms of business and education. It’s not a market to make a quick buck in – the firms that truly succeed are ones that take a long-term view.”
Dr Jacques is a visiting senior research fellow at the London School of Economics, a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and a fellow of the Transatlantic Academy, Washington DC. His book When China Rules the World has been highly influential all over the world. For 14 years he was the editor of Marxism Today, and has written extensively for many international newspapers and magazines.