David Williams has arrived in China as part of a delegation of civic delegates and local businesses who have travelled to Shanghai and Hefei to promote Derby and build on the relationship between the two cities. Below David blogs about his third day in China.
What a day that was!
We went straight to Hefei Civic Centre, a building that wouldn’t look out of place in London or Manhattan, for business to business meetings.
It is quite daunting for a small party of English men and women (small being four) to enter a room where upwards of 25 businesses and 50 people are ranged behind desks waiting to have conversations with you.
My translator of last year, Professor Li Qing (a professor at Anhui University), turned up to translate for me again which was very kind. I launched into meetings with two Chinese law firms, one of which was the third largest in China, and both of which had a significant presence in Hefei. It turned out that both had clients looking to do business in England and would be very keen to support us with any work we wished to place in China. They had particular expertise in setting up new entities in China and protection of intellectual property. Above all, they were decent friendly people with a real interest in how law is done in England and a real enthusiasm for engaging in a deeper relationship.
I then met with five other businesses, all of which are interested in making investments in English businesses from subjects as diverse as tourism through to heating products. They all now have my card and as conversations with them develop further, I would be very hopeful that we will be able to assist them.
Throughout the afternoon we toured China (and the world’s) largest rail manufacturing company’s plant in Hefei, the exhibition centre at Hefei’s high technology innovation park, and finally, the world headquarters of the lithium ion battery manufacturer supplying many of the world’s automotive companies. One of our guides was extremely interesting and his mission is to ensure that there is never a recall on any car powered by one of their batteries. He sees this as a huge challenge given the speed of development of the technology.
Our evening meal was hosted in a superb fashion by a property developer/investor in his own hotel. Through the course of that meal he was quite insistent that, having visited Derby, he intended to open a hotel in the city. We will see if that comes to pass and if it does………..
I was reminded today that Hefei has grown over the last 10 years from around 1 million inhabitants to nearing 8 million. It is anticipated that the population will be 10 million by 2020. This is an entirely new city. There was undoubtedly somewhere an original town, but this has long disappeared under the tarmac and concrete of a total redevelopment. Everywhere you look new skyscrapers are being built to be occupied either as apartments and flats or as offices. An entire huge area is devoted to new and emerging industries, there seems no bounds to their ambition. Over the next three years, three new high speed train lines will be constructed. These will link Hefei North with Beijing in four hours, reduce the time to Shanghai to two hours and provide transport to other Chinese cities in equally astonishing times. The word the Chinese use here a lot is “committed”, they have committed to do the things they say they will do. In every example in our dealings with them they have delivered that which they have committed, they are focused on their commitments to their people and delivering a high quality of life and they seem to be succeeding.
CHINA DAY 2