Geeking out in Reading with an update on Chinese digital trends

Huawei smartphone

From Alipay to WeChat, China’s internet is transforming the world, so I was excited to present the latest statistics on Chinese digital trends at Reading Geek Night on a cold Reading night in January. I’d first delivered a talk on Chinese tech in 2013, and much has changed since:

Reading is a top tech town, and no strange to China, either – behemoth Huawei has its head office located at Green Park (unfortunately there was no one from Huawei at the event – maybe it was the cold weather…).

Internship places still available through British Council’s Generation UK – China programme

When I graduated many years ago, my options were limited. There was no social media. No smartphones. And certainly no hopping over to Asia for work experience (though I did apply – unsuccessfully – to Singapore Airlines. I’ve still not flown with them since).

Times have changed, and both students and graduates these days can apply for internships halfway around the world. What fun!

Places are still available on the British Council China’s two-month Generation UK – China internship, offered through its partnerships with CRCC Asia (Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen) and InterChina (Qingdao, Chengdu and Zhuhai).

Having been to all of these cities other than Zhuhai, I would say the latter option that includes Qingdao and Chengdu is the more interesting choice from a cultural and living perspective.

All placement fees, accommodation, travel insurance and airport pickup is covered by Generation UK – China funding, which is pretty amazing, and interns will also receive weekly Chinese language classes and take part in business/cultural activities.

It’s a heck of a start in anyone’s career, and certainly tops my call centre experience.

Anyone interested can apply through the British Council website.

UK and Japan, sorry, China, commit to tech during Strategic Dialogue

Jeremy Hunt did well to think of flowers and chocolate for his wife (‘Mrs H’) this week.

As many of us know, the new Foreign Secretary made an unfortunate slip of the tongue when meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing. We’ve all been there…though perhaps not before powerful statespeople.

More relevant, though not quite so fun, was the meatier stuff discussed during the 9th China-UK Strategic Dialogue. The two sides agreed to expand cooperation in new industries and new business ‘forms’ including artificial intelligence, green energy and the digital economy.

There’s been strong interest recently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – an umbrella term that means all sorts of things that will likely change our lives, as had the smartphone and internet era previously. Both the UK and China, among other nations, are leading the way in this new wave of innovations and have complementary abilities.

So the message is increasingly clear: if you specialise in high-end stuff like AI, robotics and renewables, now’s your time – as demonstrated by February’s mega-deals between British and Chinese companies.

One of this year’s deals was with the world’s second biggest smartphone manufacturer, Huawei – a whopping £3 billion agreement. This week the Shenzhen-based manufacturer saw the arrival of 50 participants from the UK in its Seeds for the Future training programme.

The global programme, now in its third year, includes the involvement of STEM students from the UK’s leading universities, who will be in China for one month to gain work experience.