F1’s Made [with] China: There’s more explaining to do

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HOME — The sign behind the track today at the Shanghai Formula 1 race said “Made WITH China”. (You can see it in this BBC report at about 3:42 and 3:53, but it was clear all day.)

Along with the logos for Santander, Lenovo’s ThinkPad, DHL, Shell, Allianz and others, the message coming out of China’s industrial capital today was clear: You have to work with us.

No doubt. It’s in English. It’s one of the highest profile China events with a business audience. Where is used to say [in] on all the toys I had as a child, it now has the word [with] squeezed in.

The Chinese dailies make the point here and here.

The trick then comes in understanding and cooperating with China. Stories like this one, printed in the Australian paper The Age this week do not help.

I had the pleasure of being in a major FTSE boardroom recently while the China operation tried to explain the situation in that country. It took a lot of words, pauses and a great deal of openness of spirit and mind for the westernised executives to get it. They wanted to. And eventually I think they did.

But more can and should be done by Chinese businesses to help. There is more communication, operations and change management that Chinese industry and government can do.

The ads are a start, but only a small step in a much longer journey.

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