Interview with the President Emeritus of the European Chamber
What’s your best memory of the European Chamber experience?
My best memory is the one-hour one-on-one meeting with then President of the European Council José Manuel Barroso, talking about his experiences during the time China was about to open to the outside world.
Do you feel that the Chinese authorities care about the Chamber’s messaging and recommendations?
Chinese authorities read our publications and pay attention to our initiatives, as we always carry out actions that are fact-based and encourage dialogue to come up with solutions that are beneficial for the whole industrial community, no matter whether foreign or domestic.
Do you see the European Chamber as an overall success, or does it only appear to be successful in a China context?
The stakeholders in Brussels, where I live now, are paying as much attention as the Chinese authorities and media do. In the last few years, the Chamber has also developed credibility among the European Union (EU) Member States, the United States and other major countries and blocs.
Does the European Chamber today resemble your vision of what you thought it could be when it first started?
The model of the Chamber needs to be contextualised in the current time and environment. The strength of the European Chamber is that it is always adapting herself to the changing times as well as the requirements of the historical phases. The response of the European Chamber to COVID-19 is the best example of this.
What role did you personally play in the formation of the European Chamber? What was the biggest challenge during that time? And what was the biggest achievement?
I was among the 51 entrepreneurs who founded the European Chamber of Commerce in China. We had challenging times, as China was about to join the World Trade Organization, but the quality of people working on the topics and files was outstanding, and the first Position Paper publication rocked! We managed to immediately draw the attention of the Chinese authorities in a time where communication between the Chinese Government and foreign business community was still getting lost in translation.
How do you expect to see China’s business/regulatory environment change in the next 20 years?
China and the rest of the world are at a crossroads. The former has to understand that to become a global player in economy, finance and geo-politics, it needs to play by common rules and with a transparent approach; the latter has to give up prejudices that still impact a fair vision of how common interests have to be shared by nations and their populations.
What role do you expect the European Chamber to take in the next 20 years?
The Chamber is a highly structured organisation that a group of leaders throughout the years have helped to shape, taking advantage of the diversity and multicultural approach of its member companies, staff and partners. I still remember when we toured almost 20 capitals in my first year as president, to deliver with a single voice the messages of the European Chamber. Continuity toward this path will contribute to keeping the Chamber strong and innovative.
What value has the European Chamber brought to you/your company/your industry?
I have learnt that to be strong, you need to be united and give up some of your interests for the common cause. And that, through this approach, you’ll get something valuable in return.