By Kate Madley

If Welsh creative businesses want to do business in China, they need Guanxi.

Translated to ‘relationships’, Guanxi  is the key ingredient of a strategy to break into the Chinese market, according to experts who gathered in Wales last Friday.

The Cardiff Confucius Institute’s fourth annual forum brought together panellists from China, London and Wales to discuss the Chinese visual communication industry and opportunities for Welsh businesses.

The message was clear: doing business in China means building relationships and this takes time.

“Collaboration is vitally important,” said Professor Peter Robertson, Dean of the Cardiff School of Cultural and Creative Industries at the University of Glamorgan who facilitated the panel of contributors.

“Well organised trade missions are key. If you go out to China on your own, you are not likely to get very far.

“Specialised trade missions for specific sectors offer businesses the opportunity to enter new markets and share experiences. A small city in China can be the equivalent to the size of Wales, and so a business needs to be focussed when entering the Chinese market.”

The Creative Industries in China is a relatively new sector. From 2004 to 2008, the sector grew annually at 22%, higher than the national GDP growth for the same period.

Currently there are 300,000 graduates trained in the Creative Industries in China. It is expected that the industry will value £207bn by 2014, double its current value. China is the world’s largest computer market and the second largest app download market.

Panel member Marco Forgione, chief executive of International Visual Communication Association (IVCA), positioned the UK as a global centre of excellence in Creative Industries and encouraged Welsh businesses to engage with the multitude of opportunities the sector has to offer in China.

“There are no Chinese brands within the world’s top 50 brands, and China is tasked to transform this,” explained Marco Forgoine.

“In China’s largest 60 cities, 70% of resident’s leisure time is spent online whether it is on their mobiles or at a computer.

“Opportunities exist not just for big brands, there is a perception you have to be big, and this is not the case. China is looking to work with SMEs and micro-businesses.”

Further presentations were delivered from Jonathan Brigden, managing director of London-based creative events studio Knifedge, who are in the process of establishing their first office in Shanghai.

Visiting members of the panel from China included Ming “Benny” Luo, Vice President of Huakai Creative, market leaders in the urban planning exhibition industry in China, and Zheng Wen Jun, director of the Chinese Creative Industry Awards.

Marco continued, “In Wales Creative Industries businesses have the opportunity to enter China using the niche Welsh brand. Using their Welsh identity under the UK brand leverages them to a powerful position.”

For more information about Cardiff Confucius Institute visit here.