Exploring Opportunities at the World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention

Speaking at the 11th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention held in Singapore this week, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng noted that when problems first hit the United States in 2008, many thought that it was limited to that country, or even limited to one economic sector within the country, however that perception changed with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the realization that economic globalization has led to a situation where nobody is immune to the current economic crisis. While acknowledging that the outlook of the debt crisis in Europe remains uncertain, the outcome could be influenced by the prospect of the recovery of the world economy. He suggested that, rather than each country choosing its own different way to deal with difficulties, it may be better to seek solutions and strive for common development. Mr Gao pointed to China’s economic and trade cooperation with ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – as a good example of the mutual benefits of economic cooperation.

Addressing the 4,000 delegates at the World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong drew attention to the tradition of building a network of connections to do business with, pointing out that with China opening up new markets, entrepreneurs who wish to trade beyond China’s borders will no longer be able to rely solely on guanxi – connections. He called on Chinese entrepreneurs to “upgrade” themselves and raise their game in order to take advantage of increasing overseas trade. Mr Lee assured delegates of the commitment Singapore has to supporting Chinese entrepreneurs throughout the growing global network.

Traditionally, many Chinese-run companies start off as family businesses, but Mr Lee noted that they should not let this limit their expansion. He referred to Huawei Technologies, a Fortune Global 500 company which had its roots in a family business. To move ahead in western countries, Huawei Technologies became familiar with western management techniques and called on professional consultants to guide them in enhancing their competitiveness.

Mr Lee also advised entrepreneurs to strengthen ties with local communities through philanthropic deeds and social projects. Strong communities are likely to be supportive and loyal to a business in the long term, thereby benefitting the community and the entrepreneur. Mr Lee further noted that Singapore’s cultural diversity, strong infrastructure and extensive connections makes it an ideal gateway between East and West, and gatherings such as the World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention will present more opportunities for expanded trade.