AustCham Beijing Chairman’s Column: Leaders need to lead


Australian business leaders must actively engage in the Australia-China relationship, writes AustCham Beijing Chairman David Olsson.

The importance of understanding Chinese business culture is frequently cited as an imperative for Australian businesses in furthering their engagement with Chinese counterparts.
Being culturally savvy is, however, only part of the story. In an increasingly competitive, complex and interconnected global environment, Australian business leaders need a curiosity and determination to understand how to deal with Asia and to assert themselves in key Asian markets. Importantly, they must engage and understand the developments taking place in the Australia-China relationship.
Through active participation in policy dialogue, business leaders can create and seize opportunities, and in doing so, contribute to policy which benefits the wider business community.
In Beijing there have been several important occasions over the last few months for business and government to collaborate around policy formulation and business development initiatives.
We welcomed the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Dr. Craig Emerson, who attended the CIFTIS conference to participate, with several of our members, in high-level policy forums on the services sector. During the conference, Dr. Emerson formally launched the AustCham Financial Services Working Group White Paper 2012.
More recently the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Mr Wayne Swan, led a senior business delegation, in a high-level business and government dialogue. The sessions, which included policy discussions, market briefings and round-table discussions, gave our members a unique opportunity to express views on what we want from our future relationship with China.
Other visits and discussions have taken place with the chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Mr. Greg Medcraft), the chairman of the Foreign Investment Review Board, (Mr. Brian Wilson) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tony Abbott).
AustCham is proud that it has played an active role in organising and facilitating these visits and we have been delighted that members are using these events to express opinions and participate in dialogue. Business leaders should have an opinion; and challenge opinions. Active participation in leadership activities engenders recognition, respect and success.

AustCham China Scholarship Program
AustCham is committed to strengthening business leadership through initiatives such as the AustCham China Scholarship Program. The scholarship seeks to foster Australia’s next generation of business leaders, by providing Australian graduates with sector-specific work experience, language training as well as the opportunity to attend industry seminars and events.

This year the scholarship hosted eight talented young individuals. Their work experience in China will enable them to gain an invaluable insight into Chinese business culture and will equip them with the leadership skills necessary to succeed in the Asian century ahead.

The scholarship could not be possible without support from the government and private sector.

Initially, the scholarship was largely funded through seed money from the Australia China Council. Now moving into its third year, it is dependent on private sector support. As we are increasingly reliant upon Asian literate business leaders, initiatives like the scholarship are in Australia’s national interest, and thus command support from the Australian business community.

Over the coming decades, Australian business leaders will play an enormous role in cultivating our relationship with China. For this reason, we urge the business community to throw its support behind initiatives such as the AustCham China Scholarship Program. Please see our website for more details on how you can be involved.
2012 will be recognised as the year the Asian Century started. If business leaders continue to exercise strong leadership skills, develop a clear “China strategy”, whole-heartedly engage in policy and dialogue and work with government to agree a common game plan cemented in partnership with Asia, history may show this to be the year Australia came of age. 

*Pictured: HE Frances Adamson, Australian Ambassaodr to China, Mina Guli, Wayne Swan, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Dalwyn Bateson, AustCham Beijing, Bernie Ripoll, Parliamentary Secretary at the opening of AustCham Beijing’s new office in July.

**To learn more about AustCham Beijing and its initiatives, visit:


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