Sunday, January 05, 2014

Global expansion: the 10,000 cadres plan

Lord Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirre...
Lord Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirrell's head in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
China's companies and citizens are preparing to go global, but details about a large masterplan are scarce - if there is anything like a masterplan.
During my visit to Shanghai I noted a few interesting stories, that still lack much needed details, but might give a bit of insight on how the country is preparing for its global future. Today, the 10,000 cadres plan of the Chinese Communist Party.

There is much ado about China (lack of) ability to exercise soft power when expanding abroad. Very few Chinese are able or willing to make an impact abroad, and when they have the self-confidence to do so, it likely ends into a PR disaster.
Most recent mishap was the opt-in of the Chinese ambassador to the UK in the Daily Telegraph, who tried to explain China´s position towards Japan. But by comparing Japan to the evil Lord Voldemort in the famous Harry Potter movies, he did get a lot of attention, but perhaps not the uproar he wanted. He became  the laughing stock because of this comparison, nobody will remember the political point he wanted to score.
Quite some PR-firms have been advising different sections of the government on how to improve their image, but that mostly failed as its government officials lack a basic understanding on how politics, governments, media and citizens interact abroad.
One notable mistake was the effort of a Chinese state-owned energy giant to take over an Australian coal mine, and did not think it was needed to talk to the Australian government about its plans. Not only in China, government have a key role to play, and the effort failed.
Few of the efforts by Chinese companies to go abroad have been successful, and even the often-mentioned success of Chinese companies in Germany, after scrutiny less than a dozen real deals can be counted, and those were often not too successful. (We plan a separate contribution on this issue)
Tourism and real estate might be exceptions, where Chinese individuals take decisions, but when governments or companies are involved, the number of successes is limited.
To reverse that stagnating line of going global, the Communist Party of China has set up a program, that has been kept under wraps and where we do not have much details to share. The plan is to train and educate a 10,000 cadres to sell the China messages abroad. And as an extension of that program some of China´s major firms have decided to copy that idea by setting up their own training program, although rather in the hundreds than thousands of participants.
Again: very few details have emerged on the how and what of these programs, and for a large degree, they might still be under construction. It looks like a reversed edition of the prestigious Confucius Institute, meant to teach and educate the outside world about China. This 10,000 cadres program is focusing on China internally, and get (at least some) of its people ready for a global role.
Have you heard of this program, and do you have more details? Do not hesitate to share more details.
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