Face-to-face with ‘high-quality’ growth.
A funny thing happened on my way to Shanghai this month… I could see the ground.
In my recent trip in preparation for ACBC’s upcoming high-level business delegation later this month I saw first-hand the transformation underway in China under its new “high-quality growth” agenda.
Hearing the plight of my Shanghai friends with their stories from COVID lockdowns was a visceral reinforcement of how China has changed. They were simply wrapped to see international visitors returning. Also, a delight to be able to spend some time together with our Uyghur friends living in Beijing. Every aspect of actually being in China and experiencing the day-to-day reality opened up some further understanding of today’s China, on its path to being tomorrow’s China. Some thoughts and insights relating to our climate collaboration opportunities follow below.
On my flight from Shenzhen to Shanghai, I managed a window seat on a (carbon offset) China Southern Airbus and was able to watch the cascading landscape of China’s southeast unfold beneath the plane. From the Greater Bay Area through the Wuyi Mountains and across the Yangtze River Delta, the beauty of China’s natural landscapes was a delight to behold. With great green mountains and flowing rivers and streams, it was obvious that China’s balancing act for participation in the modern world is as much a concern for China as is Australia’s concerns for our own natural assets in a carbon-fuelled world.
To be able to see this landscape, as opposed to the auburn haze covering the country in many previous trips, was a green shoot for me in our potential to drive change.
Net zero will be achieved faster if we work together.
That French President Macron spent plenty of time in China while I was there was also a testament to the rewards of relationship building helping the sale of s few hundred Airbuses to China. Plenty of discussion on next-gen nuclear and China-EU carbon trading and cross-border adjustments.
I also took advantage of China’s incredible high-speed train infrastructure in a trip from Shenzhen to Beijing (2,200kms, 6 Provinces, 8hrs), and again from Beijing to Jinan in Shandong Province (90mins). In the North-South trip, I saw in one day the shift from the manufacturing heartland of Guangzhou, through the rural villages and towns of Hethat are such a balancing act for China’s two-speed economy. Rural rejuvenation is a major agenda (just follow President Xi’s internal site visit program).
However, the journey also provided me with some insights into the renewable power generation infrastructure (solar/ wind) and the gasification of many of its major power generation assets. The industrialisation of the North became evident in Hebei, however, it was evident that much of the development (construction) considered stalled in the West due to our limited media coverage, is very much underway, as many positive aspects of China’s new high-quality growth.
The rivers were flowing, the channels in the main cities were clean, and the road and rail infrastructure impressive.
China is on the move again.
Dozens of electric car brands on the road unrecognisable to foreigners. 90% of the taxis in China are now electric. However, the most striking experience was on arrival in Shenzhen after a midnight flight from Jinan and on exiting the magnificent Bao’an International Airport and being greeted by the silence of the endless stream of electric ride-sharing cars servicing the mobile-phone wielding customers. Not a word is spoken. No chaos. No noise. No smell.
Living in electric dreams.
This is not to ignore the mass of heavy diesel vehicles I saw still lumbering down the expressways, and the tapestry of high-voltage AC electricity distribution towers cluttering the landscape.
Green Economy Opportunity
Every city is opening up to international visitors. In every meeting I was received before and after another international visitor. Australia is late at the gate. In every city there were plans for ‘high-quality growth’, meaning industrial transformation, innovation and new technology solutions.
The challenge ahead for all of us is tremendous. For Chinese business leaders, it’s a career-limiting KPI if you don’t do something.
Despite the size and scale of China’s economy, and the intense competition from other international governments and businesses, there are still a huge number of opportunities for Australian businesses in areas not previously considered in the ‘dig-it-and-ship-it’ export-focussed mentality of Australia.
We need to move up the value offering and dive into the China economy to share our knowledge and expertise in green energy transition and integrity in green finance and green product development.
If you think there’s a shortage in skilled workers in Australia’s green economy transition, imagine the opportunity for education and training in China.
Engineers, project managers, investors, environmental advisors – every Province is screaming for international participation and help.
Australian businesses in this green economy have the opportunity first, to work with the many Chinese companies active in Australia already, all of which are committed to peak carbon and net zero aspirations. They need help. Here. In Australia. Then we can move with confidence, and with trusted partners, into the massive opportunities in China market, and the South East Asia region (where much of China’s investment is going).
Collaboration is key. And relationships and rebuilding trust is what we are committed to facilitating.
So please join us and register your interest at acbcgreenchannel.com and be a part of the green economy transition to help us achieve net zero faster, together.
Chair, Net Zero Working Group