China Corporate United Pavilion’s vice-president compares Chinese and Italian work processes.
China and Italy are closer than ever thanks to the Expo Milano 2015. The international event that has just opened in Milan will provide a significant economic boost to both countries. This is the firm belief of Zhu Yuhua, vice-president of China Corporate United Pavilion (CCUP), the pavilion where Chinese companies will be showcased at the Expo.
China hosted the Shanghai Expo in 2010. Now it’s Milan’s turn. What did China gain from that experience?
We came away with a great deal of enthusiasm. Many direct and indirect opportunities presented themselves to a whole range of companies and Shanghai improved in every way, from its transport system to its environment. Milan is twinned with Shanghai. Our president Xi Jinping has often reiterated that China must support Italy and especially Milan. That’s why we set to work immediately and put a great deal of effort into getting our three pavilions ready in time, the Institutional one, the Vanke pavilion and our CCUP.
What are your plans for the pavilions?
First and foremost, the pavilion is our showcase. We thus expect plenty of networking and meetings designed to promote our businesses and culture. Our three pavilions will house many exhibitions and events every day, from painting to photography.
How many visitors do you expect from China?
Up to now we’ve sold 1.2 million tickets in China alone and we are still selling more. But we don’t want our fellow countrymen to spend time in Milan only. We’re organising a series of parallel visits, a series of itineraries, so that our tourists can get to see Venice, Rome, Florence, the Langhe.
From a business perspective, why should a Chinese company be interested in taking part in the Expo 2015?
There won’t just be the three official delegations I mentioned earlier. There will also be business delegations, probably four of them. For Chinese companies this is a great opportunity to go global. For the first time in 100 years, since the 1915 Expo, Chinese companies have joined forces and set up an international grouping. We want our presence to be systemic. Italy should look into this kind of approach. Italian companies are of two kinds. While individual companies with a degree of economic clout – such as Barilla or luxury brands like Armani – know how to operate on international markets, the small- to mediumsized ones find it difficult to establish an international presence. I believe that these latter companies are a true goldmine, and thanks to the Expo they could really shift gears. Approximately 200 Chinese companies, and perhaps even more, will come to Milan and organise meetings on a daily basis to showcase our best assets and set up networking opportunities with our Italian counterparts.
A tricky question. Italian newspapers, on the eve of the Expo Milano 2015, have pointed to the many delays in the construction of the exhibitors’ pavilions. Have you ever had any problems with the Italian authorities?
Generally speaking, all went very smoothly. Of course we’ve had to deal with a few bureaucratic hitches, but we’d planned well and in advance.
It has been bandied about that the Expo may turn out to be a bonus for Italy’s economic revival. What do you think this event can mean for Italy and how can China lend a hand?
The Expo 2015 will certainly boost the Italian economy, even though the benefits might not be immediate. Once it’s over, the GDP will have undoubtedly improved. At present Italy expects 24 MAy JuNe 2015 | 15 expo. MIRACLe IN MILAN | million visitors. The Expo 2015 is primarily about tourism, that’s for sure. Italy hosts 65% of the UNESCO sites worldwide. Every part of the country has its own history and culture, and is a tourist destination for anyone who enjoys life. I think Italy must exploit the Expo mainly for its tourism potential. It can provide an unprecedented showcase. The long-term results are what matters.
Mankind is fallible; therefore any human creation is error prone. Seeing as China organised the Expo right before us, what are the three mistakes Italy must avoid?
(laughs) Anyone can make mistakes in these major events. What I’ve come to appreciate is how they reacted to the initial blunders that led to a reorganisation of the infrastructure and a threemonth delay. The recovery has been achieved in the shortest time possible and in compliance with legislation. It’s almost an Italian trait, part of their lifestyle. Construction was accomplished in three shifts per day. In China we’re used to making the most of every hour and minute we have, if we have to catch up. Here they were working 20 hours a day. Our shifts would have covered all 24 hours, without wasting four hours a day. But the time has been made up, as far as I can tell. Everyone has worked very hard.
What can China pass on to Italy through the Expo 2015 and vice versa?
China needs to develop its technology, its scientific research, it needs new ideas. That’s what Italy has. But your country falls short with its workforce; it has no natural resources, no raw materials. In other words, we have complementary requirements. And both countries have a long and respected history. There are many platforms for cultural and technological exchange, but the Expo is certainly the most important of them all. That’s why we’re here.