søndag 23. mai 2021

Has a 'gold rush' mindset blinded Australian businesses pursuing 'mercurial' China market?

It was in the mid-2000s during a regular meeting with a client that Bob Cronin realised he'd grossly underestimated the challenges of doing business in China. They were heady days in the bilateral relationship between Canberra and Beijing when the sky seemed the limit for enterprising Australians in the Middle Kingdom.

Yet the veteran newspaperman got a harsh reality check not long into his stint editing the Shanghai Daily, the English language Chinese journal then part-owned by Australian billionaire media proprietor Kerry Stokes. "We had an advertising contract with a company," Mr Cronin, a former editor-in-chief of The West Australian, said.

"The deal was that they agreed to pay us x dollars a month. In return for that, they had the right to sell advertising in the Shanghai Daily."So you say, 'You have to pay us $100,000 a month … if you sell $150,000 of advertising in the paper you make $50,000 … if you sell $80,000 of advertising, you lose $20,000'.

"That was the deal. That was the contract. And after about six months they came back and said: 'Advertising is much harder than we thought and so we need to change the contract'."