Australia-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry
of New South Wales

Return to the Position Paper on Sister Cities

Business mentor furthers relations

Published in Sister City News, Vol. 13, No. 1, January 2000

ACCCI, The Australia China Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New South Wales, is a unique Australian organisation established in September 1976 to further economic relation between the regions of Australasia and Greater China.

The Chamber is unique in its early recognition of Sydney as the financial and commercial capital of the South West Pacific, with the State of New South Wales as its trading and investment powerhouse and the economic gateway to the Eastern States, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, and Western Australia.

In short, Sydney is the regional jewel in the crown and the only possible high technology and culturally diverse information, com-munications and transportation systems mega-centre that is competitive with similar centres in Asia, North American and Europe.

This is a very important realisation for building long term and successful economic relationships between Australia and China.

Australia with its less than 20 million population of barely 200 years history and based in a small number of coastal cities. In contrast China with over 1.2 billion people of more than 5000 years history and located predominantly in rural inland provinces.

Essentially Chinese provincial leaders, particular business officials, look to Sydney as a guide for their trade and investment decisions concerning this country and South West Pacific region.

In this context the correct choice of potentially the most productive Sister City relationship for your city and a Chinese city will in part depend on the existing connection with Sydney as the Chinese will be looking for a range of technologies and industry investments unlikely to be found in a regional city or town in Australia.

The Chamber can be of assistance in guiding your choice, facilitating the negotiations for a Memorandum of Understanding and subsequent Sister City Agreement, and most importantly mentoring both the implementation of this agreement and the relatively smooth operation of the relationship in all its diversity over the future years.


It is the ACCCI experience that many of the terminated Australia-China Sister City Agreements, and some existing ones which have not reached their potential for both sides, could have benefited from the external advice of an experienced organisation such as Chamber with a specialist knowledge of China at central, provincial, municipal, county and district levels.

The mentor process is usually a difficult one for a number of reasons.

First, the Australian City usually makes decisions quickly with small numbers involved whereas the Chinese City takes greater time with a wide input from various organisations. This can bring frustration and mis-understanding on both sides, and requires precise communication of a well planned and costed program

Second, although the situation is gradually changing, protocol and ceremonial meetings, including banquets involving government officials are very time consuming and costly, and can be a strain when nothing seems to be happening in terms of concrete projects beneficial for Australia as well as China. There is a skill in developing mutual respect and understanding.

Third, the monitoring of projects, which are either primarily or initially non profit and friendship based, can bring problems for both sides as there is often no criteria for success and possibly no continuity in management personnel responsibilities. This means that potential commercial opportunities are missed as the “make friends first and do business second” Chinese approach works itself out. In many cases a Sister City relationship will need 3-5 years before substantial results are achieved.

The Australia-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New South Wales for these reasons would be a good partner and mentor.

Michael C. H. Jones
President, Australia-China
Chamber of Commerce and Industry
of New South Wales