One of the things that the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture (ACIAC) does as part of its mission is to build connections with the business community that has been working for decades to promote collaboration between the two countries. On 27 November, 2018, ACIAC Director Professor Labao Wang visited the Australia China Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (ACSME) Association where he delivered a seminar talk about Chinese culture at one of its 2018 Roundtable sessions. The topic of his presentation was “Deconstructing the Myth of Chinese Face”. ACSME president Mr David Thomas moderated the talk. ACIAC’s Executive Assistant Lindsay Liu was also there to contribute to the session.
The talk attracted a crowd of some 50 colleagues from the business sector. Professor Wang and Lindsay Liu heard the audience’s self-introductions and responses to the concept of face before they spoke. When the seminar started, Professor Wang, together with Lindsay Liu, spoke about what the face means in the Chinese culture, why Chinese seem obsessed with the idea of face and finally they offered some tips as to how westerners could get around the Chinese face when working in China or partnering with Chinese colleagues. They finally took questions from the audience and spoke about regional differences in Chinese culture, changes brought around by the advent of technology and younger generations, and other dos and don’ts when Australians set out to work with their Chinese colleagues.
This seminar was one of ACIAC’s first educational programs designed specifically for Australian business leaders. ACSME is a platform for SME owners, leaders and senior managers in both Australia and China to meet, network and develop opportunities to do business together. The organization aims to bring SMEs in both countries to create meaningful relationship, friendships and business opportunities. Other similar educational programs will continue while ACIAC works with city councils and business enterprises in the future. It is hoped that these and other programs that the Institute runs and the cultural expertise will help fill some of knowledge gaps in Australia’s collaborations with China.