By Danica Farley, manager, YPO Business Networks
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C., recently welcomed 28 members from YPO’s Doing Business with China Network for its first private dinner for the business community, featuring dynamic speakers and exclusive networking opportunities.
Chinese Minister Lu Kang – typically only available to members of the United States Congress – joined members for dinner and shared insider insights to help navigate the Chinese business climate. U.S. Congressmen Robert Pittenger of North Carolina and Vern Buchanan of Florida together with Director of Legislative Affairs of U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden’s office, Tonya Williams, also attended the gathering.
“Those of us in attendance realized this moment was one of those special experiences we get on our YPO-WPO journey perhaps once every five or 10 years,” says 2012-13 YPO International Chairman Chuck Davis, a member of the WPO Angeleno Chapter.
Members span the globe, bridge industry sectors, and connect beyond borders and politics. Doing business in China presents unique challenges. The world’s most populous country has a low GDP per capita, mirrors a capitalist economy and has strong government control. This unique educational opportunity enlightened members about cultivating relationships and advancing business in the second largest global economy.
“Even to a native Chinese like me, I am still learning everyday how to deal with the fast speed of change,” says Network Chair and event organizer Wei Chen, a member of the YPO Southern 7 Chapter. “What worked yesterday no longer will work today and definitely will not work tomorrow. How fast we learn and how quickly we adapt are key success factors.”
Roundtable discussions invited candid conversations about China’s development and progress, and timely tips were offered during education sessions. High-level briefings from Chinese Embassy officials highlighted economic reform, finance, bilateral trade, politics and culture in the People’s Republic of China. In addition, U.S. congressmen discussed the importance of Sino-American relations from the U.S. perspective.
“Having done business in China for many years, I appreciated the candor and thoughtful perspective of the Chinese Embassy representatives,” says Rob Power, a member of the WPO Alberta Chapter. “Chinese initiatives to meet Western business and commercial expectations were refreshingly frank and helpful.”
Attendees convened in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s conference room, usually reserved only for the U.S. House of Representatives leadership when discussing high-level decisions and issues. Participants also toured the U.S. Capitol, as well as the Chinese Embassy which opened in 2009 and was designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei.
“It’s hard to imagine a warmer reception at the Chinese Embassy than that which was provided to us,” says Chris Marlin, a member of the YPO Miami Chapter. “The remarkable amount of time and energy embassy counselors and ministers spent in connection with our presence is uncommon, in my experience.”
Members can learn more about the Doing Business in China Network. There are more than 50 YPO networks that connect members around business, personal and philanthropic interests. Members can explore networks at www.ypowpo.org/networks.