The JTC China 2015 Story

Building Our Team

After completing a national outreach and recruitment campaign throughout fall and winter 2014/15, Global Vision selected (out of hundreds of applicants) 40 of the nation’s finest young leaders to serve as Junior Team Canada (JTC) Ambassadors, representing their communities and country on a trade mission to the People’s Republic of China. Each JTC Ambassadors submitted online applications in the form of video or written essay submissions. Ambassadors were selected based on their ability to communicate, lead and work in a team, but most importantly because of their commitment to their country and community.

China, Here We Come!

From July 28th – August 13th, Junior Team Canada departed Canada for a three-city, seventeen-day mission with the objective of strengthening bilateral trade, investment and friendships during the China-Canada Year of People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges. Following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s official visit to China in November 2014, JTC supported our partners-enterprises and the federal government’s Global Markets Action Plan by engaging Chinese industry, government, civil society and youth leaders to market Canada’s strengths, identify business opportunities, gather market intelligence and contacts.  

Developing as Young Professionals

Armed with the 5 Step Game Changer (the Global Vision leadership, personal development, cross-cultural training, and international business bible) the Ambassadors had the opportunity to hone their skills in real-time. After raising $5,500 from corporate and community partners back home, JTC rose to the challenge of promoting Canadian industry and culture while overseas while developing as young professionals- Canada’s next best class of international movers and shakers.

The Ambassadors- coming from every province and region of the nation- not only developed their individual professional skills, but also (and perhaps even more importantly) worked on the ground to come together as a team to strategically use their individual attributes to meet the many challenges set before them- going from “me” to “We”. As JTC Ambassador Nicole Zhao (Toronto, ON) put it, “the greatest part about seeing our team connection form is how natural leaders arose, and how individual strengths and weaknesses were highlighted. By combining our strengths, the team became much stronger than any single individual effort. We each built on each other’s strengths and helped each other improve our weaknesses. At the end of the mission, I not only took back the memories but the lessons learned through fulfilling our mandates, through peers, and through the new culture we experienced”. Indeed, as Global Vision founder & president Terry Clifford, C.M. is often fond of saying, “all of us are better than any one of us”.

Uncovering Opportunities in Western China

In order to identify new opportunities, Junior Team Canada travelled to the bustling commercial cities of Chongqing, Chengdu and Guangzhou in Western China. As Canadian Commercial Consul David Perdue noted, “these cities offer niche opportunities for Canadian businesses, perhaps more so than the more saturated coastal markets like Shanghai or Beijing”.

In addition to completing individual mandates provided by our Canadian partners, JTC focused on investigating opportunities for Canadian businesses in economic sectors with particular growth potential in the Chinese marketplace such as: agriculture, engineering, education, foreign direct investment, information-technology, manufacturing, natural resources, and professional services (law, finance, real estate and immigration). 

JTC: Consistently Providing Value-Added

Throughout the whirlwind mission, JTC uncovered opportunities and established a truly Golden Rolodex of key stakeholders in China that is already opening new doors for our Canadian partner-enterprises, showcasing the tangible value-added results Junior Team Canada consistently delivers.

Junior Team Canada, no CEOs or diplomats, but a team of young professionals dedicated to their communities and country accomplished all of this. Now back in Canada, JTC is delivering on mandates set by our partners. Our Ambassadors are committed to sharing their newfound knowledge in communities across the nation and around the globe while they continue to get the experience that matters


Upon arrival to Chongqing, we had the opportunity to visit some of Sichuan’s best academic institutions: Southwest University and Chongqing University. During our visit to Southwest University we were lead in a tour across the campus on a trolley where we noticed many physical differences compared to institutions back home in Canada - the first being that many facilities like basketball and tennis courts that were located outdoors. One of the highlights of the first school visit was getting a chance to sit in on a real lecture from an international relations professor about the past, present and future of Chongqing. It really helped us understand the reason behind the rapid economic and population growth of the city. 

Another aspect of the visit that really opened our eyes was getting a chance to hear from high school students about their perspectives on education in China, specifically the focus on traditional learning (lecture based) over experiential and extra-curricular learning that most Canadian institutions embrace. Although schools here offer extra-curricular programs like Model UN and spelling bees, the amount of extracurriculars offered are fewer and the attitude towards students participating in them is more reward-based (from good academic grades) rather than as a part of a holistic post-secondary experience as found in Canadian universities. After presenting our education partners and fielding questions from the students assembled at both universities, we discovered there was a strong preference towards enrolling in technical programs such as engineering, architecture and other STEM fields. 

Something that took us by surprise was the rigour of Chinese secondary school curriculums and the general attitude towards the value of university here in China. In China, the final year exam that all students are required to write as part of the post-secondary entrance evaluation, known as 'gao kao’, forms the curriculum base for all classes throughout secondary school. Students spend years studying for this exam and the lead up to writing it can be a time of significant stress for Chinese students. However in Canada, there is no national post-secondary evaluation exam and though class exams can also pose stressful study times in students’ lives, the assessment is based on a term’s worth of information rather than the students’  learning in several subjects over the course of their secondary school career. Upon successfully completion of the ‘gao kao’ and acceptance to university, Chinese students find post-secondary school much easier academically and higher graduation rates support their anecdotal evidence. 

Having one on one conversations and directly interacting with secondary and post-secondary students opened up our team's eyes to the challenges and opportunities for Chinese students looking to study in Canada and Canadian students looking to study in China. For Chinese students wishing to study in Canada, one of the attractions is financial aid for tuition and lodging offered through federal and provincial government programs, community organizations and institutions themselves. Complimenting their Chinese education with a Western based degree is also of value (either at the bachelors, masters or technical level) as employers in China or abroad typically view experience in both systems highly valuable. Furthermore, many Chinese students looking to study abroad see work experience in another country following graduation as highly valuable (whether or not they plan to immigrate there permanently). Canada boasts an advantage in this area through the federal ‘Experience Canada’ program which offers two-year temporary work permits to eligible international graduates with the time spent in Canada counting towards a permanent residency application. Not many Chinese students or education officials are aware of this program however, so as a country we need to be doing more to promote this program which will attract international students from across China. Finally, as extracurriculars are not emphasized as much in Chinese schools, the opportunities available in Canadian institutions is highly attractive to Chinese students.

For Canadian students wishing to study in China, one of the challenges they may face is the culture shock to the food, customs and the language barrier present in Chongqing. Though an international education is similarly looked upon favourable by most Canadian employers, Canadian students should do due diligence as some degrees, specifically those governed by professional associations in Canada (medical, accounting, etc) are not internationally recognized or accredited. With the focus on technical and STEM degrees in China, Canadian students looking to pursue an education in the social sciences or humanities may also find their options in China limited. 

All in all, although there are many differences and similarities that we found while touring the campuses of these Chinese universities, both countries offer unique opportunities not found at home and all students agree that going abroad for your education is a great way to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to experience different learning styles and cultures.


>> by Daichi Ishikawa, Fred Ninh, Corinna Ha, and Nadeem Kilani

Junior Team Canada’s 2015 delegation attended a briefing by held by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade on Monday (August 3rd) to learn about the various opportunities and challenges for Canadian companies looking to invest in Chongqing and the broader South Western region.

History and Current Economic Position

The manufacturing and technology prowess of Chongqing is rooted in its wartime history. The city’s inland location is a strategic advantage, protected by the surrounding mountains and yet accessible from the coast by the river. This unique geographic inheritance lead to the city being designated as the Chinese wartime capital and center of all military command during the Second World War. Such was the importance of the city to the war effort, U.S. President Roosevelt would refer to it as “the morale fortress” of the allied forces.

Having continued the development of its heavy industries well beyond the armistice in 1940, Chongqing today has become an important economic center for emerging industries in the STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing) sectors. The persistent development of these sectors is further supported through a robust education infrastructure, with particular emphasis on institutions with strong technical training programs and focused industrial expertise.

In particular, there is a significant presence of emerging companies and industry clusters that are focusing on the design, development, and manufacturing of: computer monitors and screens; robotics; telecommunications; advanced materials; clean technology; and medical sciences and engineering.

Opportunities and Challenges

Canadian expertise in clean technologies and agricultural engineering, as well as our strengths in the chemical and advanced materials industries, stand to benefit from this rapid development. However, the market may be shifting even as Canadian companies and organizations actively pursue opportunities in this space.

Corinna Ha, a Junior Team Canada Ambassador representing Ontario and an incoming finance student at McGill University, found that a mismatch between the supply and demand of foreign direct investment sought by Canadian municipalities posed both fresh challenges and opportunities.

“My partner, the municipality of Chatham-Kent, is seeking Chinese auto parts manufacturers that supply the North American market to developing plants in their municipality. Unfortunately due to strong domestic demand in China and high production costs, auto parts suppliers apparently have no interest in entering our markets. They would rather expand to emerging markets in Africa for example, to pursue growing demand for automobiles in an environment with much lower production costs.”

Instead, Ha recommends Chatham-Kent and other municipalities to pursue broader opportunities that leverage Canada’s reputation for quality and reliability. “I think Chatham-Kent should not only focus on attracting capital investments from the automotive industry, but also look at high-tech companies based in China that wish to enter the North American market.  The STEM industries in China, and Chongqing in particular, are rapidly developing sectors that will continue to see significant investments in the foreseeable future. Positioning ourselves to take advantage of this wave would be of great benefit to Canadian communities.” 

About China Council for the Promotion of International Trade

Established in May 1952, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) comprises VIPS, enterprises and organizations representing the economic and trade sectors in China. It is the most important and the largest institution for the promotion of foreign trade in China.

The aims of the CCPIT are: to operate and promote foreign trade; to use foreign investment to introduce advanced foreign technologies; to conduct activities of Sino-foreign economic and technological cooperation in various forms; to promote the development of economic and trade relations between China and other countries and regions around the world; and to promote the mutual understanding and friendship between China and peoples and economic and trade circles of all nations around the world.

With the approval of the Chinese government, the CCPIT started to adopt a separate name – China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC)- in 1988, which is used simultaneously with the CCPIT. The CCPIT admits new members from among enterprises in all parts of China and promotes trade through its functions of information consultation, exhibition, and legal assistance.

CCPIT Official Website