Michael Sainsbury
March 30, 2016

It’s springtime in China for the PM

Trade

It’s springtime in China for the PM

Spring in China: Malcolm Turnbull makes his first visit as Prime Minister

Australian businesses will get a close look at some of China’s biggest technology companies including Huawei Technologies, Alibaba, Baidu, and JD.com as part of the Australia Week in China business caravan that will climax in Malcolm Turnbull’s first visit to China as Prime Minister.

Mr Turnbull will take a break from his attempts to re-shape Australia’s Federation, when he makes the long awaited trek to China on April 14 for a star turn at the gala lunch at the Shanghai Expo site for 2,000 of his closest friends that will close the bi-annual Australia Week in China in Shanghai.

Technology will be at the centre of a number of the eight business streams – each taking in at least three different Chinese cities – which hundreds of Australian business people will participate in from April 8-14.

The main technology showcase will be the Innovation stream which InnovationAus.com understands Assistant Innovation Minister Wyatt Roy will lead.

Mr Roy is one of a number of ministers who have committed to the roadshow including Minister for Trade and Investment Steve Ciobo and Special Trade Envoy Andrew Robb, who pioneered the event two years ago with Mr Turnbull’s predecessor Tony Abbott.

The Innovation stream will see the introduction of new government initiatives the Australia-China Innovation Exchange and the Australia-China Startup Ecosystem Exchange, which are expected to be unveiled next month.

Traversing China’s southern IT hub Shenzhen, Beijing’s Zhongguancun startup hub in the university precinct of Wudaoko and Shanghai, Austrade aims to set up Australian businesses with Chinese accelerators, investors and research partners.

Other Chinese companies and organisations expected to be presenting to the group include upstart mobile phone maker Xiaomi, Shenzhen Advanced Technology Institute, Guangdong Private Equity Association and the Qianhai Equity Exchange Centre.

The ‘Premium’ Food & Beverage and Consumer stream (that means no VB and no Jatz biscuits) is also technology heavy with a strong focus on e-commerce.

Participants will visit the headquarters of one of the world’s biggest e-ecommerce companies Alibaba in Hangzhou, as well meet senior executives from Alibaba’s rivals JD.com and Netsease Kaolo in Beijing and Hangzhou.

Still, in something of a minor blow to organisers that underscored the depth of the malaise in the resources sector, the proposed Mining Equipment, Technologies and Services (METS) – Smart Mining stream, which was to have visited China’s bleeding-edge coal mining region Inner Mongolia, was cancelled due to lack of interest, according to a note on the Austrade website

There’s a hint of bi-partisanship, too, with former Labor Victorian Premier John Brumby taking a prominent role by dint of his position as chairman of the Australia China Business Council, which has been radically reshaped in recent years from its previous incarnation as something of a mining industry lobby group.

Mr Brumby is also one of two members of the Australian board (effectively an advisory group) of Huawei Technologies.

As something of a coda to the PM’s speech and as the final event of the week long program, Telstra will co-host an event tagged “Digital Disruptors and the Power of Partnerships”.

The program described it as a “panel discussion by business leaders and digital disruptors will discuss how technology is transforming global markets, organisational competitiveness and doing business”.

It will feature a panel including Telstra’s Beijing-based Greater China CEO Ruey Bin Kao, a former president of Motorola China, CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall, as well as Chinese technology executives.

Mr Turnbull’s trip to China will be brief; in fact just a one-night stand. Following his visit to Shanghai, he will head to Beijing to meet with Chinese President and Communist Party supremo Xi Jinping, who will be fresh off a trip to Washington to meet Barack Obama.

Mr Turnbull’s trip to China follows the traditional Australian diplomatic formula for visiting allies the United States and Japan ahead of China.

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