2016 Study Trip in Shanghai-Hangzhou-Suzhou, China

May 11 2016
Written by: Chompunuch Chachchaval, BBA#16
It was such a unique chance for me and other (final year/Accounting major) students to go for an educational trip in Shanghai-Hangzhou-Suzhou for a week. The trip is a part of a Comparative International Management Course, taught by Ajarn Somchanok Passakonjara. The course explores on application of management study with an Asian focus.
This amazing trip was the best opportunity for us to gain a firsthand experience from business practitioners in China and it was an eye opening experience to see China, the leading engine of world economy, with a deeper perspective. 
Shanghai is the most modern city of China with skyscrapers and state-of-art infrastructure. We visited the Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai’s landmark, from which we looked down through glass floor of 263 metres high to see the whole city of Shanghai illuminated at night.  
After a day of cultural excursion, we started to learn about economy of Shanghai by visiting the Royal Thai Consulate Shanghai where special information session on Shanghai Free Trade Zone was conducted for us. It was a privilege for us to listen to a presentation from the Director, Commercial Consul at Royal Thai Consulate-General, Shanghai about Thai-China trade relation especially the trend of consumers in Shanghai. We also learnt the office’s activities and its significance role of helping Thai investor to sell Thai local products in China. Besides insights about China economy and market trend, we also learnt in depth about the purpose of Free Trade Zone and its benefit to investors in that it liberalizes trade, finance and investment. We also listened to a presentation from the expert about China’s government policy to transform the economy to sustainable manufacturing and service based, and how FTA could be a part in achieving the government’s missions. Not only that the presentation was very insightful and beneficial, we also received an opportunity to ask questions directly to the experts to obtain better understanding of FTA and China economy. 
On the same day we visited two Thai companies located in Shanghai- Bangkok Bank and CP. 
We learnt about Bangkok Bank’s operation as a foreign bank in Shanghai, mainly its business functions and main customers. As for CP, we attended a presentation by the Director of CP China from which we learnt the insight of CP, the pioneer Thai investor, who came to do business in China successfully and their secrets to success. We also learnt about the progress of China’s development from the perspective of a business person who has been a player in the Chinese market for a long time. Meeting with key people from two leading Thai companies that also expanded abroad both made us understand better of the challenges of doing business in China such as culture, regulations and language, yet we also saw a great potential of this country that could be opportunities for other Thai investors as well.  
On the side of Chinese leading companies, we visited CTrip which is the biggest travel service provider in China and number two in the world. The company is very innovative, all transactions are done on the online platform in which the transactions will appear real time on big digital screen in a company. Learning from a presentation by the regional Director of CTrip, we learnt the importance of “Guanxi” or relationship in Chinese term since the company is tremendously benefit from forming good relationship with business partners in all level of comprehensive travel service chain such as hotels, carriage and online user experience sharing forum. We also learnt a reflection of Chinese customers’ preferences and needs from the director’s sharing at the same time learning how the company has become successful expanding globally through keen strategic moves.
To expand our knowledge on FTA Shanghai, we visited the YangShan port of Shanghai which is the Free Trade Zone area and met with the CEO of the biggest fruit importer in Shanghai who shared his story from an investor side of how the FTA and the establishment of Free trade zone has benefited his business. In the free trade zone, goods could be shipped inbound mostly tariff free and lesser custom procedures. The Free trade zone will also permit convertibility of currency and unrestricted foreign currency exchange making investors benefit from doing international transactions. Not only that, setting up companies in free trade zone requires significantly less procedures and capital requirement.  
After 4 days in Shanghai, we transported to the nearby cities of Hangzhou and Suzhou. In these two provinces we were able to visit factories and observed their operations. 
IT East Com (Eastern Communications) is a electronic and network system solution provider with broad range of products such as financial electronic in banking card ATM, Wireless trunking system, and electronic manufacturing service. From this we witnessed how Chinese companies aren’t just mass manufacturer like perceived by the world. A number of Chinese companies just like IT East Com are also innovative companies focusing on advanced R&D and high-tech manufacturing service comparable to developed countries.  
Finally, we visited the manufacturing plant of Suntory Beer Brewing Company, company in the group of Suntory Holdings Limited Japan, located near Suzhou. Although located in China, we still can observe Japanese style in company procedures such as uniform, the quality control process and innovative mass production machines.
Overall the trip was very fun and valuable. The knowledge we learnt from the trip truly enhances our understanding of business management in China and the roles Chinese culture has on business practices. The experience adds tremendous value to in class knowledge and increase our cultural intelligence at the same time.