Report written by Bill Quinlan-Watson
In May 2014, I undertook a trip to Guangzhou in mainland China to attend a trade show with our Chinese partners who are importing wine into China. Guangzhou is a city of approx 8,500,000 people and much of it is new with lots of construction cranes working. The trade show lasted three days and I was told approx. 40,000 people would attend.
The wine market has been mainly sales to customers for gifts and celebrations but is changing to more common consumption of wine being led by the more affluent young people. The trade wine buyers are very professional, generally speak English and know a lot about wine. Very few of the general population speak English and signage is all in Chinese and many have not heard of Australia.
The city is zoned with many tall towers in the main residential areas. It takes about a year to build a residential tower and a year to fit it out. They are built of concrete and faced so they look like sandstone (which looks great). The interior is fitted out with all built in mod cons, with floors of marble and carpet. On entering a Chinese home you take off your shoes and put on slippers. The gardens surrounding the residential towers are tropical and beautiful, with ponds and swimming pools all manicured constantly. Security is everywhere with cameras on street poles and strict security at the trade show.
The drink you will be offered everywhere is tea served in small cups (like after dinner coffee cups) which are constantly topped up. A big variety of food is common; everything from chicken’s feet and fish intestines to chicken and pork, but my skill with chopsticks leaves a lot to be desired.
The traffic is busy with driving being on the opposite side of the road to us, lots of toll roads and some streets are up to five lanes wide. There are not many stop lights, with major roads being one way (like a freeway) and some are elevated, so to get off you need to get to a fly over (clover leaf).Traffic police are on station all day and will stop trucks etc from going into residential areas.
I didn’t see a lot of blue sky with the city covered in a tropical haze (probably smog). What I saw of China was limited, not having visited the poorer areas. So much is relatively new and modern, which gives the impression that the city is progressive and developing quickly. The opportunities for Australian trade with China could grow substantially - but the rest of the world is there as well.