Last week I hosted a reception, with the Chinese Consul General, for British and Chinese businesses. The aim was to allow our business communities to get to know each other better in an informal setting, to see if there were opportunities for them to work together in Australia. The initiative was sparked by the Third UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue, agreed by the Chancellor and his Chinese homologue in November last year.
“’Ni hau’ would be too casual a way to start” my oldest child suggested thoughtfully, walking through the kitchen the day before, as I considered what I would say in my speech. “I know that” I said, slightly disconcerted; although my opening few words in mandarin were written by a Canberra colleague fluent in the language.
The event was attended by representatives of around 50 Chinese and British companies, and the level of conversation and the comments of participants suggested it was a success. I’ve already had positive feedback from one British company that they will be having follow-up meetings from the contacts they made. The sponsors – BT Australasia, HSBC Australia, Norton Rose and Virgin Atlantic Airways – all seemed pleased too. Good. We’ll now consider with the Chinese side whether we might replicate the event in other cities; and follow up the Sydney event in due course too.
I spent the next day in Brisbane, mainly to meet with some Australian companies that have invested in the UK, to explore whether there is any more we could be doing to help them. Separately, I had a fascinating visit to the local offices of Sega Games. The redbrick exterior of their low-rise office block in central Brisbane gives no clue that inside, in a large open plan area, are tens of computer programmers designing the Sega computer game for the London Olympics. It was breathtaking. Some were recreating stadia, others polishing particular effects, some working on the way athletes move in certain disciplines. It was surreal to think that, with the London games more than a year away, in downtown Brisbane, the events are already being won and lost – virtually – on a daily basis.
Back in Sydney now. Parrots in the trees this morning, grumbling and squawking as they try to find seeds; cold, but blue skies completing the scene through the window. Good to be home.