I attended the Seattle Biz-Tech Summit on October 19, 2013 in Bellevue, Washington. Produced by Kirkland, Wash.-based Nan Hai USA Co. Inc., the conference attracted leaders from companies operating in China and Washington state, respectively, from the information and communication technology, clean tech, and biotech sectors. This blog post will focus on a panel I attended entitled "Commercial Gateway to China: An update on US/China Trade and Investment." (This is a picture of me standing in front of the China Telecom Americas exhibit at the Seattle Biz-Tech Summit.)
In an interview by Dahlia Peterson of contextChina, Nancy Yang, Nan Hai's senior manager, explained that "the aim of the summit is to provide a 'dynamic platform for both large companies and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to develop business opportunities, learn about cutting-edge innovations, identify emerging markets, expand their business, and showcase their products and services to hundreds upon hundreds of summit attendees.'"
In her article published by contextChina on October 30, 2013, Wen Liu notes that the participants of the "Commercial Gateway to China" panel consisted of "some of the most experienced business leaders in the region, including Sidney Rittenberg, China business consultant and life-long China watcher; Robert Kapp, consultant and founding executive director of the Washington State China Relations Council; Ben Zhang, CEO of Greater China Industries; and Karl Kou, vice president of Huawei USA. Serving as moderator was Mark Wen, a commercial strategy manager at the Port of Seattle and president of the Washington State China Chamber of Commerce."
Sidney Rittenberg began, as Ms. Liu writes, by "sharing with an audience of American and Chinese business people his wisdom in achieving success in China. To understand China, he said, one has to look at the country from its own context, not try to apply the formulas that work in the American economic paradigm to the Chinese paradigm. When doing business in China, one should stay out of politics completely, he advised. 'When you are in another country,' he said, 'you are expected to obey that country's laws even if you think they are horrible laws.' Rittenberg also believed that Google made a tragic mistake by pulling out of China, as it could have had an enormously positive influence in Chinese society if the company had stayed." Having done business worldwide, I can attest to the importance of respecting each country's customs or laws no matter how odd or unjust they may appear to me.
Ms. Liu says that "an audience member, the owner of a small tech company operating in China, voiced the worries of many companies when he said, 'IP protection is still what keeps me up at night.'" That audience member was me (see photo on the right).
Robert Kapp responded that intellectual property problem is unresolved and it may never get fully resolved. "The standard answer, he said," notes Ms. Liu, "is that as China rises up the technology and scientific sophistication ladder, and as the Chinese create more and more intellectual property, they would want IP protection themselves. Before that, however, American companies would do well, 'to be very, very, very thorough in protecting the access to that mixture that constitutes intellectual property,' he said."
The Seattle Biz-Tech Summit was interesting and relevant to the objectives of my company, ROI3, Inc., as my colleagues and I prepare to fully introduce our suite of digitally-animated mLearning apps and content for smartphone and tablet users in China. I look forward to attending the next conference scheduled for September 27, 2014.
Here is a news report from China about the conference:
Aaron Rose serves as President and CEO of ROI3, Inc., a Seattle, Wash.-based company that empowers people in emerging economies through innovative, technology-based solutions. He is also the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.