AustCham Beijing Chairman’s Column: Bye Bye Beijing.
AustCham Beijing Chairman Roger Wolfe reflects on his four and half years in China before embarking on his return to Australia.
Some of you may have heard of a small working class suburb of Brisbane called Browns Plains – ‘the Bronx’ I called it and having spent 20 + years there raising four wonderful ‘billy lids’, moving to and living in Beijing for the last four and half years has certainly been different to say the least.
This is my last column prior to returning back to Australia and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share some thoughts with you after three years with AustCham Beijing.
The low points were the May 2008 Sichuan and April 2010 Qinghai earthquakes along with snow storms in the same years and the shocking February 2009 Victorian Bushfires where we witnessed the very best in people coming together to help others who suffered terribly.
It is times like these that demonstrated how alike Chinese and Australian communities are when faced with adversity. As for the highs? I would need the whole magazine to list them, especially after the 2008 Olympics and hosting the first visits to China by our current Prime Minister and dedicated Governor General, but one that really affected me personally was being privileged to attend the opening of the new Cochlear office in the ‘Jing’ and seeing a mother whose young child had received an implant sing a song for us. The tears of joy streaming down her face as she watched the performance said it all – thank you Australia.
Our annual balls have become an institution, not only in terms of the quality of the food, entertainment and atmosphere, but more importantly in relation to what has been achieved in raising money for those less fortunate – China Disabled persons, Australian Paralympics team and Heart to Heart in Shanghai as examples.
The work that goes on behind the scenes by dedicated people is inspirational. As a Chamber, many have commented that we ‘punch above our weight’ but as to the wider Australian business community here, it’s really those who ‘fly below the radar’ and quietly go about doing their bit that are the true unsung heroes earning great respect from our local hosts. Whether it’s in education, financial and legal services, agriculture, medicine or other fields, the contribution they make really gives you the incentive to try that little bit harder.
I encourage those who have taken the time to read this far to reflect on what YOU can do to make a difference, no matter how small, and help others less fortunate. Whether that is in China, Australia or wherever you may be – the ‘return on investment’ is far better than what Bernie Madoff ever offered and the only risk is not having enough time in the day to do more.
Thank you China for such a rich and rewarding experience – my family and I have been very privileged and we look forward to returning regularly subject to our Lotto getting up!
A big thank you to both current and past board members with whom I have had the privilege to serve and last but not least, Dalwyn & our secretariat whose commitment and professionalism is without question. Australia – we have a lot to learn in relation to old fashioned service, especially in retail outlets and restaurants, so I encourage Australian business to learn from China in these areas please! ■
*Picture : Roger and Jeanette Wolfe at the 2009 ANZA Great Wall Dinner in Beijing.