Mr Kua Bak Lim (left) shared his personal experience on business operation in China from a historical and cultural perspective; Dr Koh Hock Kiat (right), director of Confucius Institute, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), hosted the seminar

On June 4th, at 3pm, the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Confucius Institute jointly organised the seminar “From a historical and cultural perspective: Discussion on business operation in China” at the Confucius Institute Lecture Hall. The event had garnered an audience of hundred members from the Chinese associations and public alike.

The keynote speaker of this seminar is Mr Kua Bak Lim, the Head of the Research and Publication Committee of SFCCA. With China’s reform and opening up over the past 30 years, investing, operating business, and working in China are now hot topics, and more importantly, the focus of media attention. Factors contributing to the success of businesses and investments in China are complex. As China is a country with a long history and rich culture, understanding its history and culture will certainly benefit those working or engaging in business there.

Mr Kua, as a renowned local historian, has had extensive work experience in China. With his profound knowledge of Chinese history and culture, coupled with his practical experience in China, Mr Kua has a deep understanding of the connection between Chinese history and culture and the nuts and bolts of operating a business in China. As such, his presentation came from a historical and cultural viewpoint, and tapped on his own observations from working in China. Mr Kua expertly wove anecdotes, hear-say, and photos in a humorous style to explain the mundane yet intriguing old question to the audience. Communication styles, management models, and operational mechanisms are a few examples of cultural differences. The most well-known ones are the existence of “unspoken rules”and the elusive “guanxi (i.e. interpersonal relationships)”.

Many attendees expressed interest and raised questions about investing and finding employment in China. Mr Kua pointed out that investing in major Chinese cities requires significant capital. For small-scale businesses, he suggested exploring opportunities in other second or third-tier cities and ascertain the market’s demands.

Dr Koh mentioned that although NTU and SFCCA have collaborated in various aspects before, a joint event like this was a first. Dr Koh expressed gratitude towards the Secretary General of SFCCA, Mr. Patrick Lee for gracing the seminar. He also thanked Mr Kua for facilitating the seminar and for delivering a captivating speech to the audience.