Posts tagged ‘Beijing’

Brussels traffic worse than Beijing

As you may know we work from the Brussels Bubble but our firm is global. As such, we’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with and meet colleagues and friends from around our company’s 80 odd offices on a pretty regular basis. Our recent 20th anniversary celebrations of our Brussels saw representatives from pretty much every continent (except Antarctica) visit us. One of them was our esteemed colleague Wang Lei from FH Beijing. A former MOFCOM official, Lei has been with us for over 2 years and provides a world of value with his insights on China from our Beijing office. Upon his return to his home country we asked him to answer a few not too cutting quickfire questions about his visit.

The thing that most surprised me about Brussels was…

The traffic. I thought Beijing was the worst city in the world for too many traffic jams and cars but Brussels seems to be even worse.

If there was one thing I’d change about the EU it would be…

To streamline the EU bureaucracy and make it simpler, quicker and more effective.

If I were a European I’d want to be a….

Belgian. They enjoy the freedom of having no government.

If you want to understand China…

Please learn some Chinese, stay in China for a number of years and spend time communicating with locals. If you do not understand what they are saying, and that’s not because of the language issue, please resort to some history books for the answer.

The next big thing to come out of China will be…

A big hug. China is embracing the world with goodwill and money.

If you ever go on a business trip to Beijing don’t forget to…

Climb the Great Wall, for only by doing that will you become a true man! And you will not be surprised to see that the Wall can’t be seen for true men.

July 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm 1 comment

What is Public Affairs? Some thoughts from a global perspective

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This last week saw our latest Global Public Affairs Leadership meeting here in Brussels. In attendance were public affairs practitioners from global centres like Beijing and DC, major European capitals such as London, Berlin and Paris and a host of other places from Latin America to Canada. It just goes to show that wherever you are,  the public policy agenda is likely to have an impact on your business.

It was great to participate in some informed debate on hot issues; the regulation of financial service markets, energy security and climate change and consumer product safety amongst them. It would appear that increasingly issues are global and markets interconnected, even if the issues play out locally.

Much the same observation can be said for public affairs itself. While the objective may be the same the world over, the tactics used may change depending on the market, the regulation in place (in terms of direct contact between stakeholders and government) and the issue and its lifecycle.  The discussions led me to the observation that it was worth putting down somewhere my own understanding of some of the terms discussed – from communications to public affairs and finally government relations.

I’ve tried to do so in the attached file below.

Public affairs and government relations diagram

I’d be interested in people’s reaction especially in Brussels where the terms government relations and public affairs tend to be used interchangeably. At the same time communications tends to be looked down upon by those who only do the strict lobbying piece, as if decision-makers are only informed by views expressed in one-on-one meetings. Our recent digital MEP survey suggest otherwise.

One final thought. Our session on this subject matter appeared to me to suggest that the conditioning of the environment in which decisions are taken (i.e. the public affairs as opposed to government relations piece) is increasingly important for actors irrespective of the market they are in. It is in this context of course that digital tools fit in…


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June 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Public affairs in a global world – a new internet resource

English: Illuminatable Earth globe, Columbus, ...
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Over recent years, our work here at FH Brussels has become increasingly international in nature. The internet has of course contributed to this. In this globally connected age, the issues and policies that our clients care about often transcend both national and regional borders.

Internally, this has meant that our Global Public Affairs Practice has seen annual get togethers in the last three years in our global public affairs hubs of Beijing, Washington and Brussels to discuss how global public affairs plays out at a local level. Happily, we now have a solid global network in public affairs supported by strong local capabilities in key cities across Europe, North America and Asia.

As such, it is great to see an new initiative with a truly global public affairs perspective in the shape of The website, created by Ben Atfield of London based public affairs recruitment specialists Ellwood and Atfield, brings together news and views from the global public affairs community. Its editorial board has members of the public affairs community from three regions of the world, including Andrew Johnson of Euro RSCG and Tom Spencer of the European Centre for Public Affairs from Brussels.

We’re looking to seeing this platform develop as the public affairs sector (both inhouse and agency) increasingly professionalises across the globe. One small suggestion for the platform’s own development; RSS feeds of the three news columns would be useful for all of us using our own aggregation tools.


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April 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm 1 comment

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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at

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