Chinese investment in Australia offers economic benefits and opportunities to its partners, yet Australian media sometimes convey a sense of apprehension. This is best tempered by laying out the facts, says Dr Wei Li, one of the initial authors of Demystifying Chinese Investment in Australia report series.
The 16th and latest Demystifying Chinese Investment in Australia 2020 report released last year reached an estimated 20 million people globally.
These reports began in 2011 through a collaboration between the University of Sydney and KPMG. A dedicated research team tracks, documents and analyses the evolution of Chinese direct investment in Australia, identifies key areas for strategic cooperation, and promotes leadership skills that create long-term value.
The reports reflect original research based on a jointly established database with KPMG and undertaken with a view to increase the long-term ‘stock of knowledge’ for the corporate sector, and policymaking and practices for both government and non-government entities.
The reports have continued to attract attention as diplomatic tensions between the two countries have flared while investment has dropped. Wei believes that is due to the team’s focus on empirical research, practical insights, and big-picture thinking, rather than speculation.
“Many Chinese companies operating in the Chinese domestic market cannot develop much of an international brand and experience, so they look to Australia as a pilot market where they can test and trial ideas and see what is likely to work for them in the bigger US and European markets.”
For Australian companies looking to partner with Chinese companies, the insights contained in the reports are invaluable, especially for those planning to enter the potentially lucrative Chinese market, which can be difficult without Chinese partners.
“Our research is practitioner focused, but I always relate back to my own research skills and experience,” she says. “Once you see the phenomenon, you come back to ask yourself, ‘What is my experience? What are my research skills? How can I contribute to our team effort?’
KPMG’s research partnership with University of Sydney Business School over the past decade has played an important role in educating Australian and Chinese societies about the scale and changing nature of Chinese investment. Our research has evolved to surveying and profiling the attitudes and strategies of Chinese executives and entrepreneurs operating in Australia which has shined a very positive and unique light on the opportunities and challenges being faced. KPMG deeply values our relationship with the University of Sydney and particularly Professor Hans Hendrischke and Dr. Wei Li.