On Thursday, November 18, 1999, in the Lotus room of the Sheraton Great Wall Hotel in Beijing, People to People ambassador delegates met with 5 members of the Beijing science and technology association for foreign countries. The 5 members included:
Han Wei - Engineer and direct contact for the association
Dr. Liang Qinghuai - Professor of Civil Engineering, Northern Jiaotong University
Dr. Jian Chunbo - Hydraulic Engineering Professor, Tsinghua University
Tang Guang-Qing - Professor, Ministry of Water Resources
Bao Wei Gang - Congressman, Ministry of Communications and Transportation
Beijing Science and Technology Association Purpose
The meeting started with introductions. The Beijing Science and Technology Association stated that their primary function was to introduce intellectual equipment from foreign companies and to introduce talents to China. The association has received loans from foreign bodies such as the World Bank since 1983. Many foreign companies have worked through the association to obtain information on construction projects in China. For example, various hydroelectric projects such as hydroelectric dams, pump stations and other hydropower facilities are currently being constructed along the Yellow River and Yangtze River by foreign contractors from Italy, Germany, France and Japan. Currently, Bechtel is the only major US company working in China.
Construction Opportunities in China
China is in the midst of a major boom in the construction of hydroelectric power and transportation projects over the next 10 years. Only 10% of the country's hydroelectric projects are complete with 90% still to be constructed. Also, 15,000km of expressways are planned for construction throughout China with completion scheduled for 2010. These projects represent huge growth in China and great opportunities for foreign companies to do business in China. Payment to contractors is done through the World Bank and the local employees receive payment in yen. It is not necessary for a foreign firm to form a joint venture with a Chinese company, but joint ventures make it more likely to win a bid and get approved by the World Bank.
Opportunities for International Business Relations
On the consulting services side, China is deficient in the areas of marketing, construction management, computer scheduling software and technology. The association stated that training and cooperation programs would be valuable for China and China is hopeful that the recent WTO pact between USA and China opens the door for more exchanges.
On the educational front, there are currently government-sponsored programs for professors to travel outside China for training. There are also unwritten contracts with consulting companies such as Harza engineers in the USA and Canadian firms for training programs. Typically students pay their own way and the government has a program through the national educational commission to send two Chinese students from every Chinese university to study abroad for 3 to 6 months.
The meeting continued with the association asking questions to the top delegates. Questions were on the methods of highway construction management and scheduling, the manner of resolution between contractors and subcontractors in the USA and the inner relationship between the owner, contractor and subcontractor on US construction projects. The meeting concluded with closing remarks by Professor Nemati and by the Beijing Association.
Notes by Mr. Mark H. Stillman
Mr. Bao Weigang, Congressman, Ministry of Transportation
Dr. Jiang Chun Bo, Professor, Director for doctorate Programs, Tsingua University
Dr. Liang Qingkui, Professor, Director for Doctorate Programs, Civil Engineering and Construction Institute
Professor Tang Guang Qing, Ministry of Water Conservancy
Ms. Han Wei, Engineer, Beijing Association for Science Exchanges
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