Look Far East – Trading With China

How Qua, Senior Hong Merchant at Canton, China
How Qua, Senior Hong Merchant at Canton, China

08:20 Monday 14th October 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: All this week we’re going to be focusing on China. You could call it Look East, or Look Far East. It’s the world’s biggest country by population of course, the world’s second biggest economy. George Osborne is currently on a trade visit there at the minute, in a bid to woo Chinese investment. Insert your own jokes after that. George Osborne in China. But is Cambridgeshire doing enough business with the Chinese? Well joining me now is the founder and CEO of the Cambridge-based China Business Solutions. Ting Zhang. Morning. Do we do enough Ting?
TING ZHANG: Good morning. Well I think in Cambridge most big companies are doing business with China. However there are a lot more smaller and medium-sized companies are not doing enough in China.
PAUL STAINTON: What could we do? What do we need to do? How do we need to woo the Chinese, and woo that all important bit of cash?

TING ZHANG: Well I think there are various aspects of engaging China. Of course you have the traditional export routes, where companies can sell to the big Chinese market and earn the foreign currency. But also you can look at engaging China in research and development, manufacturing. And in recent years China is increasingly a big force in foreign investment. So Chinese investors are investing a lot in the UK, from the infrastructure, to leisure, to hi-tech. So Cambridge companies could also consider China as a destination of the investment as well.
PAUL STAINTON: There are many challenges though, when it comes to dealing with China, aren’t there, not least the language barrier, not least it’s a long long way away, and the times are completely different? But also corruption, red tape .. how do you cut through all that?
TING ZHANG: Well that’s why companies need help when they do business in China, especially smaller companies. They need to know the market situation, so basically the knowledge. And also the contacts in China are very important, to find the right partner, the right people to work with, who can navigate through those challenges for them. And that’s what we do here. We provide knowledge and contacts for companies to do business in China.
PAUL STAINTON: Some people will say, we perhaps shouldn’t be doing business with China until it sorts out its human rights issues. What do you think to that?
TING ZHANG: Well human rights is an ongoing issue in China that the Government’s trying to improve. The UK Government also has its own opinion. Everyone has their own opinion. But that shouldn’t affect business in China, because at the end of the day, companies exist for commercial reasons.
PAUL STAINTON: Where are we going to be if we don’t attract more investment from China? Because there are not that many people knocking about with dollars in their hand looking to invest in UK companies at the moment. But China is one of the few places. Where would we be if we don’t attract some of this investment?
TING ZHANG: The money will go elsewhere simply. For example, George Osborne last night in China announced that Manchester is attracting £500 million investment in a major airport deal. And China is also investing a lot in Germany, in other parts of Europe.
PAUL STAINTON: Listen, lovely to talk to you this morning. Thank you for that. Our guest Ting Zhang, the Founder and CEO of the Cambridge-based China Business Solutions, which helps companies get investment and funding from China.