Nĭ Hăo Beijing!

By Jürg Steudler

Our on site-trip has finally started. The whole delegation of about 25 students as well as several university lectures is visiting China. The study trip mainly focuses on transferring knowledge between senior executives, government officials, Chinese universities and FHNW students. This will be achieved by visits of companies, public institutions and universities. Regarded as an outstanding journey, it is a must for everybody who seeks to broaden one’s horizon in a unique manner and who would like to discover how Chinese do business in real.

After a long and quite exhausting journey, we arrived in the afternoon at our first destination Beijing. Right after landing, we changed our clothes at the airport for our visit at the Swiss Embassy in Beijing. For dinner, we already started with traditional Chinese food in a restaurant close to the embassy. After dinner, we rounded off the evening with some drinks in a bar.

The next day started in the early morning with our first company visit at Lenovo.

Having arrived at the Lenovo Campus, we got a short introduction into the history of Lenovo. Furthermore, they presented different devices and some new technologies like changeable smartphone covers for different purposes. Afterwards we got an insight into the Lenovo testing lab, where the devices get tested. The visit was closed by a marvelous lunch at the Lenovo cantina.

After a short break at the hotel to change into some casual clothes, we went further to the Forbidden City in the center of Beijing. Jessy, our Chinese tour guide, told us a lot of facts and figures about the famous palace complex. After an hour walking tour through the famous building, taking a lot of pictures by ourselves or getting used as a photo object for other tourists, we moved further to the Tiananmen Square. The square contains the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. After a short stay at the square, we headed off to get our dinner.

In a traditional Chinese restaurant, we had our dinner, which was a fantastic Chinese hotpot. Later in the evening, we went to a karaoke club to finish the day with some funny interpretation of different songs and grab some beer together.

Preparatory Seminar – 5th day

All good things must come to an end, as the last day of the Preparatory Seminar is marked by the Joint Friday. Traditionally, all four International Student Projects, Insight China, Focus India, ConnnectUs and exploreAsean are gathering together on this day. This year’s topic of the Joint Friday was fully dedicated to “Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence”.

The Joint Friday started off with the presentation of our long-term joint partner Blaser Swisslube. CEO Marc Blaser held a fantastic speech regarding his company, its values and why people like us are increasingly needed.

After lunch, the Career Fair started, where most of our sponsorship companies had the chance to present themselves. In total 15 companies were present. All FHNW students had the possibility to maybe meet their future employer and find out about attractive career possibilities.

In the late afternoon, a panel discussion on new technologies regarding Blockchain and AI was held and moderated by Prof. Michael Jeive. The roundtable consisted of:

Cyrille Wetter (FHNW Student), Christa Markwalder (Swiss National Councillor), André Wolke (CEO & Co-Founder Validity Labs), Sven Mentl (Accenture), Prof. Dr. Knut Hinkelmann (FHNW), and Prof. Michael Jeive, Managing Director of the FHNW Swiss SME Research Center China as the moderator. Today, with all the modernization AI increasingly gets more important. The world is constantly facing new technologies, nearly making the impossible possible. But what if the technologies are not always used in a positive manner? For all panelists, it is clear that one has to stand open towards these changes but keep them in a controlled manner. The time was clearly too short to cover this topic more thoroughly, but the discussion gave some great insights for us.

Last but not least, the Joint Friday was closed off by a wonderful apéro of the FHNW.

Herewith, the Insight China Team would like to thank all guest speakers, visitors, partners, delegates and participants for participating in our preparatory seminar and making it one more successful week of the international student project’s history.


Project Teams of the four student projects

Next stop: The On-Site Seminar in China!

Preparatory Seminar – 4th Day

Our 4th day of the preparatory seminar started off with an entrepreneurship game with our Delegation.

Right at the start we were split into five groups and were handed with a task: Sell your idea in a five-minute business pitch. The clock was ticking, with 60min to develop a business idea. Our delegation was extremely creative. Shortly after the group’s business pitches, the jury/project team voted the team “the great wall” as the winners. They were rewarded with delicious chocolate and a surprise for the On-site seminar in China.

Thereafter, we welcomed Prof. Dr. Harro von Senger, sinologist and lawyer, for a lecturing session about Moulüe – an unknown Chinese concept of shaping the future. Moulüe has many definitions. Prof. Dr. Harro von Senger defines Moulüe as supra-planning, which is a broad-based art of planning only developed in China. Explained by using the yinyang symbol, the (white) yang part refers to laws, regulations, customs and routine, whereas the (black) yin part refers to hidden ways to solve problems and requires wisdom and creativity. The speech was rounded up by him presenting us interesting book collections all around the topic Moulüe.

After lunch break, we had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Mrs. Barbara Lüthi, former SRF correspondent in China. Barbara Lüthi has been living and working as a journalist for SRF in China since 2006. Coming back to Switzerland, while having lived many years in China, has almost been a bigger cultural shock for the passionate journalist. While working in China, the perks of being a journalist were not always of positive side. Barbara Lüthi had to deal with several slight arrests of 6 to 8 hours when composing critical reports. However, she stated that criticism is part of a journalist’s job. She provided us with valuable and very interesting insights about life in China.

The afternoon was further devoted to the panel discussion in cooperation with the Asia Society Switzerland. The topic of discussion during the panel session was China’s role in the world. The roundtable consisted of well-regarded guest speakers: Nico Luchsinger, Qi Zhu Ammann, William R. Keller and Prof. Michael Jeive. So, what is China’s role in the world? China is increasingly becoming more important in international affairs. Today, China cannot be bypassed.

The highly interesting panel discussion was followed by a closing apéro. Delicious dining and drinks were the icing on the cake of this successful day. The preparatory seminar is unfortunately soon coming to an end. One day left to go: The Joint Friday! Once again, Insight China thanks all guest speakers for taking their time and visiting us.

 

Preparatory Seminar – 3rd Day

For the third day of the preparatory seminar the project team has organised two interesting company visits. The delegation had the opportunity to get an impression of the facilites of Brugg Cables in Birr/Brugg and Bertschi in Birrfeld.

Our first stop was at the facility of Brugg Cables in Birr, whereby we got warmly welcomed with some coffee and croissants by the company’s CEO Urs Schnell. After a quick introduction, we put on our safety vests and were guided around the facility. It is impressive how the production process of their cables look like and how precisely the work has to be done. For the second part of our morning, we travelled back to Brugg to the other facility of Brugg Cables. There we had the great opportunity to have an insight of the production of high-voltage accessories and how they finally look like.

After this morning, fully packed of impressive and interesting tours, the hunger started to begin. A big thanks goes to Urs Schnell and the kitchen for providing us with delicious hamburgers and sweets.

Group Picture with Delegation, Guides and CEO of Brugg Cables Urs Schnell

After having lunch we headed to Birrfeld to visit the facility of Bertschi. As well here, we got warmly welcomed by Beat Berner (Head of Marketing & Communication) who gave us additional details to Bertschi. Sabrina Gränacher (HRM) provided us with an overlook of the trainee program of Bertschi AG, followed by Demi Ben from Hupac who gave us an insight of the company and One Belt One Road initiative. Before heading out to have a look at their outside activities, Thomas Schnider presented Bertschi’s project in China. We then went outside for our Terminal-Tour whereby we had a closer look at the containers of Bertschi and their daily routine. To close our day Bertschi provided us, luckily in the warm again, an apéro.

We again would like to thank our long-term partners for having and supporting us!

One can say that the expectations on the preparatory seminar have been exceeded by far. On top of interesting speakers and companies, the delegation got a deeper understanding on Chinese culture and business customs. We are looking forward for the last two days to come!

 

Preparatory Seminar – 2nd Day

 

The second day of the preparatory seminar mainly dealt with Insight China’s main topic “One Belt, One

Road”.

As first guest speaker, we welcomed Mr. Patrick Roettger, Managing Director of Lenovo Switzerland GmbH. He mainly addressed the success of a global Chinese company, taking Lenovo as a best practice example. Today, Lenovo belongs to one of the top companies worldwide. More than 68 % of the revenue is generated outside of China. Most of the production, however, is located in China, being distributed over the Silk Road, thereby following the goals of OBOR. Closing his speech, Mr. Patrick Roettger especially highlights the importance of diversity and open mindedness regarding other cultures. “Be global, not international and avoid stereotypes and predefined options”.

 

Next, Mr. Hui Gu, Minister-Counsellor Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Switzerland, touched upon the Swiss Chinese relations and the perceptions of OBOR. Mr. Hui Gu especially points out the improved relationship between China and Switzerland in matters of trade, finance, innovation, and infrastructure. In 1950 Switzerland was among the very first countries to recognize and establish new ties with China. With the OBOR Initiative, Mr. Hui Gu highlights the opening up of a new era, in which not only Switzerland and China, but also many other countries profit from. The initiative aims to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Hereby, a wide consultation, a joint contribution and shared benefits are needed. Mr. Hui Gu states that, “with the spirit of mutual respect, treating each other as equals, mutual benefit and win-win, Chinese Swiss relations will play a pioneer role in the building of a new type of international relations”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before lunch, Dr. Daniel V. Christen, Board Member of Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, CEO Assetis AG talked about the Financial Aspects of OBOR. Today, the initiative focus lies in the investment in developing markets, towards Central Asia, East Europe, Southeast Asia and North Africa. Although the initiative stimulates a massive market, it also leads to a wide range of costs. According to Dr. Daniel V. Christen, the investment amounts to trillions of dollars. The total expected financing associated with the Belt and Road initiative is USD 20 trillion. The OBOR initiative is not only just an economic project, but it also facilitates the trade between China and its main partners, as well as helps get resources from Africa back to China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon, we had the pleasure to welcome Mr. Xiankun Lu, Managing Director Ledeco Geneva and Visiting Professor, Wuhan University of China, who just arrived yesterday in Switzerland from China’s spring festival. He presented us the strategic aspects of China’s OBOR Initiative. Starting with the history, how the first silk road even evolved, followed by the strategic objectives of OBOR, what the five aspects of OBOR are, about its challenges and opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CEO of the Bertschi Group, which is also a long-term Gold Partner of Insight China, Mr. Hans-Jörg Bertschi, gave us an outlook of the concrete projects of Bertschi AG around OBOR. The company was the first which ever transported liquid chemical by rail on the Silkroad between Europe and China. Today the company focus lies in China and the Middle East and Mr. Bertschi already has plans for the company’s future.

Today was all about the One Belt, One Road Initiative. We had the honour and pleasure to welcome again many fascinating guest speakers and experienced an amazing traditional Chinese lion dance by the Chin Woo Kung Fu Schule Affoltern. Thank you!