This month we get to know AmCham’s new Director of China Affairs, Michael Yu, who explains his department’s role in implementing the Chamber’s China agenda
By Jennifer Khoo
What you were doing before you joined the Chamber?
Initially, I studied and trained to be an orthoptist, gaining full qualification to practice as a state-registered orthoptist from the University of Liverpool in the U.K. But moving back to Hong Kong afterwards led me onto a completely different path.
I took my first job in the media, advertising and marketing industry, gaining invaluable experiences working for the HKSAR government, as well as in international and regional media companies.
During this period, I went on to further complete a part-time bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Coventry University in the U.K.
One thing I have learned from my experiences is that with change, you learn something new. I have enjoyed all the challenges and changes that have come my way.
Before joining AmCham, I was working for a privately-funded, China-based Nordic-Chinese platform for the promotion of business cooperation between the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway & Sweden) and China.
There, I was responsible for the development of cooperation agreements between stakeholders and the Nordic-Chinese platform; supporting marketing and promotion activities for partners; and engaging Nordic businesses as working partners for long-term development in China.
Describe a typical day for you at AmCham.
I usually start my day with a cup of coffee as soon as I arrive at the office, before proceeding to deal with any urgent correspondence that needs my immediate attention.
Organization is key to what we do here, and I always plan my day by scribbling down tasks on a piece of paper and drawing all over it. It may not look very neat but is surprisingly effective in helping me to prioritize and decide my goals for the day.
The China Affairs Department is tasked with the formulation and implementation of AmCham’s overall China Agenda. Our primary duty is to inform and update members about the latest business development and opportunities in Mainland China; this means we are always in communication with key stakeholders from China, HK and other regions to establish and maintain our Chinese business connections.
The Chamber hosts more than 30 meetings a year with Chinese government officials and business representatives from all over China. You will see me either busy organizing or hosting these events.
What are some highlights and challenges of your role so far?
Everyone's eye is on China these days, and the nation has really stepped up as a global leader and defender of free trade.
The OBOR initiative; the Big Bay Area development plan; and the role of Hong Kong as a “super-connector” are all hot topics on everyone’s mind.
It is certainly challenging to stay on top of the latest developments under the ever-changing global business landscape, and yet, extremely rewarding when we can utilize these opportunities to open doors for our member companies to succeed.
What are some key issues to be addressed at this year’s China Conference and why should people attend?
At this year’s China Conference, we will examine the prospects of a globalized China and its ever-evolving relationship with the U.S.
Key issues to be addressed include: What China’s “going global” strategy means for international businesses; and the future role of Hong Kong within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area development.
So far, our impressive speaker line-up includes: Professor David M Lampton (SAIS), Dr. Joachim von Amsberg (AIIB), Dr. Edward Tse (GaoFeng Advisory), Professor Tony F Chan (HKUST) and Mr. Richard Kendall Lancaster (CLP), with many more to be announced in the upcoming weeks.
This is a not-to-be-missed-event for anyone with ties to China, Hong Kong and/or the U.S.
Could you share about any other projects the China Affairs team is currently working on?
The Beijing Doorknock, another one of AmCham’s signature events, will take place around October or November this year. Each year, the trip involves an exciting visit to Beijing to “knock on the doors” of various ministries, think tanks and other official organizations to discuss the outcome of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
We are also planning several delegation visits to China in the second half of this year. Fujian, Jiangxi and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area are touted as possible destinations.
Out of the office, what can we find you doing?
I make an effort to exercise every day. It’s a great way to instantly boost your happiness and reduce stress. Swimming is my favorite exercise and I feel at peace in the water.