A high-powered delegation of Shanghai’s business elite has touched down in Western Australia, to discover investment opportunities in the fields of agriculture, education, tourism and the resources sector.
The University of Western Australia welcomed a 24-strong contingent of entrepreneurs from Shanghai’s prestigious Dashang Business School this week, with the delegation led by property and agriculture mogul Gui Guojie.
Mr Gui has had a long history of significant investment in Australia, including as Gina Rinehart’s partner in the $360 million acquisition of cattle station Kidman & Co, and his long-term sponsorship of the Port Adelaide Football Club, which travels to Shanghai annually.
UWA deputy vice chancellor Kent Anderson said the Dashang delegation was designed to build on WA’s economic relationship with Mr Gui and expand it as widely possible.
“A large part of this delegation is the economic opportunity it offers for Western Australia, and if we can facilitate that though our networks, then that’s a real success of this trip,” Professor Anderson said.
“Some of it will be those things that you would expect, so in this case agriculture, but we are really exposing the delegation to all of the diverse things that are on offer in WA.
“We have some of the traditional things such as agriculture, mining, there is a bit of buzz about lithium at the moment, but we are also putting in front of them some young WA entrepreneurs with some new ideas.
“There is a lot of investor money in the room, so while we’re not making a hard pitch, we just want to show the diversity and the excitement of what’s here.”
Professor Anderson described the Dashang group’s visit as a major coup for the state, which has historically had a limited relationship with high-level delegations.
“I have a background in South Australia and we have been doing this for years there,” Professor Anderson said.
“I’m really excited to bring the model to WA, of bringing high-net-worth individuals from China who are excited and engaged and want to want to develop diverse economies.
“This is the real value of the trip.
“Another of the core pillars is economic interconnectedness and while I’m a huge supporter of import-export, true interconnectedness comes when you have economic integration and when you have people like this coming here.
“They aren’t looking here to buy one-offs, they are looking to truly integrate with the economy.”
Dashang Business School executive dean Wang Rending said the delegation had been impressed by Perth’s “fascinating charm” early in the visit.
Mr Wang said Dashang Business School was a unique institution in China, using a Confucius-based mentorship approach to business education.
The exclusive institution has around 200 entrepreneurs enrolled, with around 30 mentors of significant business experience, including Mr Gui.
“We decided to adopt the mentorship system because I believe it is the best way to spread business heritage,” Mr Wang said via an interpreter.
“All of the teachers in Dashang Business School are famous entrepreneurs in China, and its students are young promising entrepreneurs.
“In our school, the mentors are willing to unselfishly pass on the wisdom and experience accumulated in several decades to help the mentees develop and even to surpass the mentors.
“This effective mode of business education is unique in China.
“Although this study tour is short in time, I hope we can build up a close relationship with the WA government and UWA on a long-term basis, so we can have more exchanges and more cooperation.”