Execs receive business primer in California

Updated: 2013-04-19 11:15

By Yu Wei in San Francisco (China Daily)

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 Execs receive business primer in California

Wang Hongxin, executive dean of Shanghai Jiaotong University overseas education college, presents a souvenir to Mark Chandler, director of the San Francisco mayor's office of international trade and commerce on Tuesday at University of California, Berkeley. Yu Wei / China Daily

With California Governor Jerry Brown recently wrapping up a trade mission through China, 48 Chinese executives have made their own trek to California to scout for investment opportunities in the United States.

As part of what is called the Global CEO Program, business leaders from China will be educated on business practices in the US. The program is jointly run by the Overseas Education College at Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

The group of executives include Zheng Yonggang, chairman of the Shanghai Entrepreneur Association; Chen Dejun, chairman of Shentong Express; and Chen Yue, chairman of Money Weekly Media Group.

"After 30 years of reform and opening up, many companies (in China) are now facing the challenge of how to sustain growth and competitiveness in a time of economic transformation and restructuring," said Wang Hongxin, dean of the Overseas Education College of Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Wang said most Chinese companies are still in the process of understanding international commerce rules.

"China should be playing a bigger role in shaping the rules and that's the issue we need to address," Wang said.

The delegation visited New York City, Washington and cities throughout California. The delegates met with officials from the Nasdaq stock exchange, Goldman Sachs and AECOM Technology Corp. They also received leadership training at West Point and several business classes at the Haas School of Business.

The group will stay in California until April 21 before heading back to China. They will then visit the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in July. The yearlong program costs $80,000 per person.

Wang said more than 30 percent of the executives in the delegation have set up overseas branches for their companies and many have showed a strong interest in investing in the US.

Chen Dejun, chairman of Shanghai-based Shentong Express, a leading private express company in China, said his company is eager to enter the US market. He claimed Shentong Express will set up US branches in the second half of the year.

"We will set up branches on both the East and West coasts with a $50 million first investment," said Chen, adding that the company will not operate in the US domestically because the industry is saturated with major companies such as UPS and Fedex.

"We will only focus on international logistics, providing service between US and China, US and Southeast Asia," Chen said. "Our price will be 20 percent lower than (Fedex and UPS)."

California Controller John Chiang, who gave a presentation about foreign investments in California to the delegation, said he would like to see the world's biggest and second-largest economies continue to thrive and grow.

"We can only do that if we work together," he said.

Chiang said there are massive investment opportunities in California. He noted the state's need for housing for its labor force, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has some of the highest rental and home prices in the US.

"We know that China, like the US, has a massively aging senior population. Healthcare issues impact us across the ocean. So what we do in terms of systems, what we do in terms of medical devices, what we do in terms of houses, is a tremendous opportunity for making the best knowledge come forward so that we can assist both our people," Chiang said.

But the state's chief fiscal officer emphasized that businesspeople need to fully understand business operations and regulations in California.

"The US is a country based on the rule of the law. So it is very important that we have a good sense of the domain that you operate your business and life when you are here in America," he said.

"California is a natural entry point because of our geographic location, but more importantly because of our heritage. This state has so many successful Chinese Americans who understand the links and promise. If you work here, you can work in any communities and have access. (China and California) have shared dreams. We understand that the 21st century depends on (the China-US) relationship."