What can Europe learn from China? China Connect brings Chinese tech and social leaders to Paris

When it comes to tech and entrepreneurship, China has been brimming with ideas during the last decade. Now it’s time to bring these ideas out into the world and according to China Connect founder and organizer Laure de Carayon, Paris is the right place.

China Connect Paris is a two-day conference starting on March 7th, 2018 which aims to help European firms understand the China market by gathering influential internet players and marketers from Greater China and Asia-Pacific. The theme of this year’s event is China, The New World’s Inspiration—a nod to the idea that the worldwide digital order has begun to shift towards Asia.

“There is a huge and deep need for education,” de Carayon told TechNode. European firms have been the Chinese and Asian-Pacific region for quite a while but the market has been accelerating and growing with local businesses becoming more influential. According to her, companies will have to grant more decision-making power to local offices. However, the market is too strategic to let go of control without a thorough understanding.

“It’s about keeping the balance in both the fundamentals of the market which is maturing and keeping track of the ongoing innovation in parallel,” said de Carayon. “How do you embrace this change and all the opportunities that come with it? It’s a headache: you have to be fast, you have to be agile while being very strategic. It’s a global trend and it’s getting stronger and so obvious in China.”

Founder and organizer of China Connect, Laure de Carayon (Image credit: China Connect)

Among the guests at China Connect’s eighth annual conference are e-commerce platform Secoo, China’s selfie king Meitu, bike rental giant ofo, influencer platform Robin8, travel site Ctrip, Maserati, Coca-Cola, and more. Content, commerce, social, data are the topics that are the main pillars of the event with special attention to e-commerce and social.

“If you consider Europe, there is a big stake in Chinese tourists and WeChat is the key to them. But beyond that there is a need to understand of social networks as a whole and social influencers,” said de Carayon, adding that the social market is evolving quite fast. But aside from the big platforms, there is an opportunity for less known ones which are more niche but can be very effective.

“In the West, everybody follows the same platforms, we’re like sheep. In China, it’s much more diverse and with diversity comes complexity.”

China Connect also launched its first China-based conference in Shanghai last year in July that brought together representatives from TechNode, Suning, Musical.ly, Weibo, Withinlink, and others. According to de Carayon, the two events are among the rare time that connect the Chinese and European marketing and tech community. The European Union and China are two of the biggest traders in the world. Today, China is the EU’s second-biggest trading partner behind the US while the EU is China’s biggest trading partner.

In Paris, China Connect has set high goals: to challenge even the experts in China. However, this does not mean that newcomers cannot join the learning curve. This year’s event will offer workshops organized by Secoo and Meitu, while the panels will cover technologies such as blockchain, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.