Businesspeople vie for face time and networking ahead of B20
Hangzhou meeting of businesspeople to comprise 800 delegates from 20 countries
While government leaders of the Group of 20 nations discuss trade, geopolitics and the environment at their forthcoming annual gathering in Hangzhou, businesspeople at a separate confab will have something more practical on their minds: networking to exploit business opportunities.
A total of 800 delegates from 20 countries make up the B20 group, gathering in Hangzhou two days before Chinese president Xi Jinping, US president Barack Obama and other G20 leaders arrive.
Half of the B20 delegates will be from China, representing 156 companies, including Baidu Inc’s chairman Robin Li and Alibaba Group’s founder and chairman Jack Ma. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
The meeting is of “special importance for many businesspeople because it offers the opportunity to meet government leaders, officials at international organisations and the strongest players in different industries,” said Xu Hongcai, research chief of the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, a business lobby group. “A picture of a businessman shaking hands with the national leader can be more than helpful to their business.”
Yucheng Group would know. The Anhui province-based company is parent of EZubao, once the largest peer-to-peer lending platform in China.
Yucheng’s chief economist Yang Chen attended the B20 meeting in September last year in Ankara, Turkey, as a representative of China’s fintech companies, among 13 Chinese businesses that attended that meeting.
He snapped photos with various leaders and corporate chieftains including Sinopec’s chairman Fu Chengyu and Sinochem Group’s chairman Ning Gaoning.
Four months later, EZubao was exposed as a ponzi scheme by Chinese police. The company had collected 50 billion yuan (US$7.6 billion) of investments in less than two years from more than 900,000 investors through savvy marketing and the promise of big returns, while more than 95 per cent of the financing projects on its website were faked, Xinhua reported.
“EZubao was an isolated case,” said economistSong Qinghui. “It remains alarming that some companies are making use of the high-class summit as an endorsement to their brand.”
Starting in May, the B20’s website posted a disclaimer dissociating itself from any profiteering arising from taking part in the conference.
“With regards to the applicants’ loss due to fraudulent action of certain agencies or individuals, the B20 2016 Host Committee is not obliged to bear any legal liability, but reserves the right to prosecute such agencies and individuals by law,” according to the statement.
The B20 summit had originally envisaged recruiting delegates from among the Fortune 500 companies, with rich experience in dealing with international affairs, comprehensive competitiveness and sound credit record. The secretariat would give priority to companies, think tanks and institutions that work closely with the G20 members in promoting investment and trade, said the B20 host committee’s headYu Jianlong.
“It’s a rare opportunity for Hong Kong’s companies to attend a global summit of such a calibre,” said Sunwah Kingsway Capital Holdings Ltd’s chairman Jonathan Choi, who is co-chairing one of the B20’s focus groups for the first time this year in Hangzhou. “A lot of companies really want this opportunity, but the scrutiny is really severe, and it’s really hard to get a pass.”