More events as Chinese associations gain independence

CHINESE trade associations are expected to generate more events in the near future as a result of greater autonomy granted to them by the government.

The government first started relaxing its control over the formation of trade associations three to four years ago, and took a step further in 2015 by announcing a trial programme to grant autonomy to 148 select associations. Associations that have benefitted from this move cover a wide range of industries, from publishing and mining to automobile and animal protection.

Zhang Te, deputy secretary-general of the MICE Committee of China Association of Travel Services, said the China Tourism Association, once under China National Tourism Administration, was the first to gain independence.

Zhang said her association will follow suit later this year.

“We will get more control over matters like approving our own events and the use of our funds,” she said, but was quick to point out that it would be hard to predict the full impact on Chinese associations since “it is still in a trial stage”.

“For now, we can assume that the new independence will mean associations have the freedom to organise more events and these activities will attract more members and in turn grow the association and its operations,” said Zhang.

As of late 2014, out of 307,000 associations registered in China, 18,000 are managed or operated by the Chinese Government. These associations held most of their meetings on homeground – 70 per cent of them took place in eastern, southern and northern China.

But this is set to change, thanks to China’s pro-international trade stance, the One Belt, One Road policy, and the government’s public-private sector partnership programme which shares a certain percentage of capital investment for private enterprises.

IME Consulting, general manager, Alicia Yao, believes that the conditions are in place to encourage Chinese associations to meet outside of the country in search of new investment opportunities.

One of the Chinese associations to look beyond national borders for new business opportunities is the World Federation of Chinese Catering Industry (WFCCI), which will organise a forum and cooking competition in Shanghai this June, and again in Barcelona in September.

“These events help draw reputable Chinese chefs and food suppliers together, opening up a new channel for import and export of food items,” said WFCCI, Tourism and Hospitality Committee, chairman, Gao Fu.

Gao revealed that WFCCI used to be “pretty secretive” in the past, when it was government linked and run by officials.

“It is changing now and we are here to serve our members and build a platform for international exchange,” he said.

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