Risky business: Has China's risk profile gone up for Australian business?
Since two Australian journalists fled China earlier this week after being called in for questioning by the country's state security apparatus, a number of our clients and contacts have been in touch to ask me about the risks for their organisations and employees working in China. Below is a video interview I made about the current situation and what I am advising clients.
Here's a summary of the topics covered and views I expressed during the interview and where you will find them in the video timeline:
00:00 - 01:57 - Overview of deterioration in the Australia-China relationship and what has transpired this past week;
01:58 - 04:29 - Implications for business in China and duty of care to Australian staff working in China, and the need to consider withdrawing them from China given the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's travel advisory about the risks of arbitrary arrest and current atmospherics;
04:30 - 05:56 - Companies involved in "business intelligence" gathering and analysis, such as public affairs and government relations companies, are especially vulnerable given how broad China's national security laws are;
05:57 - 07:30 - Companies are now limited in their ability to negotiate directly with Chinese officials when employees are detained for questioning in China compared with a few years ago because of the current tensions in the relationship;
07:31 - 12:28 - Several weeks ago there seemed hope for an end to the tensions between Australia and China given signals from both sides, but that has dissipated in recent weeks as both countries seem to have descended into tit-for-tat reprisals against each others' actions without any strategy to resolve the real issues in the relationship;
12:29 - 14:29 - Australian business needs to look at diversifying away from China, but we need to be realistic as this is not something that can be achieved in a short time - it might take a decade to find a market or markets to replace China.
14:30 - 16:19 - Alistair Nicholas Consulting is well placed to assist Australian companies looking to diversify to other markets because of its international network of contacts. We are particularly targeting India because of its size, democratic institutions and adherence to rule of law. Indeed, we have signed an agreement with Indian management consultancy firm Cretum Advisory to assist Australian companies looking to enter the Indian market.
Be kind when you watch the video - it's our first time in this medium. Apologies for poor editing and occasional background noise (#learningaswego).