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China South Africa Business Seminar

19 Sep 2016 - 09:15

On September 14th, 2016, the University of Cape Town (UCT) hosted a special seminar at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) focused on increasing business ties between South Africa and China. Organised by the Short Term International Programmes (STIP) Unit, in the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO), and the Confucius Institute at UCT, the seminar addressed best business practices, understanding and adapting for cultural differences, and how both South African and Chinese companies could best initiate and formulate solid business relationships for the future.  

The event was attended by various institutions including MTN, Tiger Brands, and Rolls Royce Industries. The majority of the participants belonged to South African based companies and institutions that actively engage in trade relations with China. The event was also attended by mining companies as well as a number of businessmen interested in learning how to establish relationships with Chinese companies.   

Dr Baojin Zhao conducted the seminar and brought a wealth of International-Sino business experience to the event. Currently the Director of the Bindura Nickel Company, and Deputy General Manager at Worley Parsons, Dr Zhao is predominantly a geologist, and first visited South Africa in the early 90s. With over 30 years of working experience in mining geology and exploration, he has over 60 publications under his belt including four books.  

Prof. Zhao was discussing the question with participant

The Chinese economy now accounts for close to 30% of the world’s GDP. With a current slump in global commodity prices, a number of western companies are easing their footprint on the African continent. This has resulted in African nations, and the African private sector in particular, to look towards furthering ties with the East. China now functions as the primary source of financing for major contracts for regional development on the African continent.

On the morning of the 14th, before participants entered the conference hall, they were invited to participate in a Tai Chi icebreaker held on the lawns in front of the GSB, which was demonstrated by Chinese volunteer teacher Huaying Wu.

Volunteer teacher, Huaying Wu demonstrated Tai Chi

The seminar kicked off with an introduction to China’s macroeconomic history before Dr Zhao explained that Confucius principals form the foundation of modern day business practices in the country. With a focus on language and key financial practices, participants were taught how to regularly communicate with a Chinese partner and/or client, and how to effectively overcome obstacles emerging from the cultural divide.

Following a networking lunch, a singing and flute musical performance, and a special calligraphy demonstration from the Confucius Institute, Dr Zhao gave a compelling talk titled “One Belt, One Road.” This focused upon Chinese culture and networking, and the increasing importance of understanding Chinese business practices before entering into any formal partnership with an Eastern company.

Volunteer teacher, Lingling He demonstrated Hulusi

The seminar concluded with a closing talk on investment and exchange, which was particularly useful for a number of participants hoping to initiate new business on the Chinese mainland.