Conference "China – Language. Culture. Business"
7th June 2013
The aim of the conference was to promote the project www.Chinese4.eu and determinate few factors connected to the co-operation between the EU and China in areas such as: trade exchange, scientific co-operation, students’ exchange and the European tourism in China as well as Chinese tourism in Europe.
During the conference experts from different fields were sharing their knowledge and experience with participants. There were almost one hundred participants from all over the world (EU and China) representing and interesting in different areas of EU-China relation from language by business to culture together with influence of intercultural differences on above mentioned issues.
The conference started at 10 o’clock, but guests arrived earlier as reception for registration was opened from 9 a.m. After the welcome speech of hosts from AMS and organizers from Chinese4Europeans project the plenary session started. The plenary session was playing the role of the introduction during which the subject of trade relations as well as languages and inter-cultural relation was presented. Adam Dunnett who is Secretary General in European Chamber of Commerce in China was talking about opinion and future perspective of European companies investing in China and also about trade exchange with China in general. Barry Tomalin who is Director of Cultural Training at International House was talking about intercultural relation and problems caused mainly from culture differences between EU and China. He also mentioned that to understand other culture ,especially Chinese culture by European Citizens, it is necessary to learn Chinese language, even on basic level. He also mentioned few language learning courses available on-line by which he recommended www.Chinese4.eu. The plenary session was summarised by long discussion and exchange of the opinion by speakers and audience. After very involving discussions everybody went for lunch during which the informal discussion and business cards exchange took place. After the lunch each participant could choose which of 3 panels: “Business communication and management in China”, “Language and culture” and “European project on Chinese language” he/she wants to choose. It was very difficult task to decide which panel to attend as each had a experienced and very interesting speakers involver. We will make a close summary of each one below.
“Business communication and management in China”
This sesion was moderated by Thomas Albert Rosenthal from Fondazione Italia Cina (FIC) who has almost 20 years of experience in business and economic relation with China. He hosts 4 other speakers. First speaker was Prof. Haiyan Zhang from Antwerp Management School (AMS) who was talking about “Post-acquisition management of Chinese in Europe”. He put a huge emphasis on the situation in Benelux countries. The next speaker was a practitioner and entrepreneur Vincent Mottrie who was showing how important and helpful is to start learning Chinese, even on basic level, when you plan to start doing business with Chinese partner. He didn’t only talk about theory but share his long-term experience on the Chinese market. Next practitioner was Wing Fa Lau who talked about management of cross-cultural differences and showed how it influence business growth in Europe. He was giving example based on his own case study which was the company he worked for management Hedgren Creation NV. Last but not least was Mindaugas Reinikis who was showing case study of Lithuanian SME which is actually winning Chinese market, of course only in their specified niche.
“Language and culture”
This section moderator was Robert Williams from International Certificate Conference (ICC) who hosted discussion about Chinese language and culture learning. Especially for such “difficult” and so different than other European languages language as Chinese it’s necessary to learn culture which helps to understand attitude of native Chinese. Especially so oriental Languages, like Chinese, has his character and values in the Chinese culture. Therefore it is absolutely necessary or even requested to learn language and culture together. First speaker Ching Lin Pang was presenting the situation of different types of school in UK. Next speaker, Bogdan Zemanek, was continuing the subject from different perspective, as he was talking not only about teaching language in the schools but also about importance of teaching culture within this process. Then Prof. Sławomir Czepielewski took the floor and presented Chinese4Europeans business module based on micro-learning. He presented effectiveness of Micro Mobile Mandarin in Education. As he is a passionate of technology he presented the issue from both linguistic and technological approach. The last but not least speaker was Adina Zemanek who was a little bit controversial as she provoked discussion about the subject is the knowledge of grammar is necessary in process of language teaching of non-philogical students whose main aim is to learn language as tool for communication.
The third session was hosted by Soros International House (SIH) Daiva Malinauskien who is very experienced in creation, development and management of linguistic projects. The first speaker, Paola Costa, was talking about his innovative platform, which is a start-up company, thanks to which people from all over the world can have language lessons with Chinese tutor not getting out of home – all is based on on-line communication. Next speaker Francesca Bonati was comparing two European funded project ChineseCom and Chinese4Europeans as she was engaged in both. She presented those project as a great contemporary tools to improve European awareness of Chinese world. Gileta Kieriene who was the next speaker was talking about “Migrants' Integrating Kit - Basic Language for Dealing with Financial Matters” and shows that right now many people, especially migrants, want to learn only a specific part of the language which can help them communicate with natives and arrange all necessary issues related to their stay in foreign country. She emphasizes that within such process cultural differences have to be presented and explained to the learner. The closing presentation was about the project Mission Possible: Chinese for Europeans, where the last speaker Aiste Dabuleviciute was the project manager. She was showing how important is Chinese language started to be in Europe and how many Europeans is starting to learn it.
By summarizing, each panel session has the same structure what means that after expert presentation there were long time for open-floor discussion and experience sharing. This approach bring many new ideas and creates new opportunities for the future. It was also a good opportunity to talk with practitioners face to face. It also played a role of business mixer where experts from the same field could talk with their new colleagues from another countries which, very often, has different perspective on many subjects related to EU-China relations. It provoked to very long discussions which was continued in the Antwerp City Hall where last part of the programme were performed. This was a closing session combined with reception with the presence of Antwerp Authorities and Government. As the reception was in the real open space people from different panels mixed together and the discussion was continued in bigger groups, even after the event was closed by Antwerp City Hall staff, participants moved to continue in the cafeterias closed-by. We saw that the participants were very engaged in discussion and they enjoyed the conference and its atmosphere which is confirmed in very positive evaluation (questionnaires) of all participants.