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China & The Digital World: SY Lau of Tencent

Posted on 26 October 2017

Earlier this month, Mishcon de Reya's Academy welcomed SY Lau, Senior Executive Vice President and Chairman of Group Marketing and Global Branding at Tencent, who gave a talk on China and the digital world. A “technology evangelist”, SY has been with Tencent - China’s largest internet company - since 2006. As Chairman of Group Marketing and Global Branding, he is heavily involved in setting and executing global marketing and advertising strategies. He also manages Tencent’s international strategic partnerships on behalf of the corporate leadership team. Previously, SY was President of the Online Media Group focusing on content for mobile news, entertainment, sports, and video on demand.

During a talk at our offices, SY shared his thoughts on the internet's value to the national economy, people's livelihoods, innovation, corporate social responsibility and leadership development.

You can view highlights from the Academy session above. (viewing time: five minutes)

A longer version is also available on our Mishcon International: Asia site.

Mishcon Academy:
SY Lau – China & The Digital World

Elliot Moss
Partner and Director of Business Development, Mishcon de Reya

So we invited SY Lau here today at Mishcon’s Academy because as part of our Asia group we are deeply interested in being as brilliantly educated as we can be about what’s happening in Asia.

Joe Hancock
Cyber Security Lead, Mishcon de Reya

China has become a dominant force in the world economy for such a long time and it’s really good to see that we’re starting to look in that direction.  I think it has always been overshadowed by the kind of PR machine of Silicon Valley and I think more and more now we’re starting to realise actually there’s a Silicon Valley starting to emerge to the East.

Elliot Moss
Partner and Director of Business Development, Mishcon de Reya

And the lessons for us at Mishcon de Reya are all around the importance of embracing technology.  We talk about being technologically transformed in our ten year vision.  We are actively engaging across the piece in what that looks like by practice.  But this was a wake-up call, this was like hold on a minute, this is brewing here but the coffee’s made over there, and we need to catch up and we need to catch up fast, and that’s a mind-set thing and it’s an investment thing.  I think we can do it but for everyone watching today, everyone in the room they heard loud and clear we’ve got some work to do.

SY Lau
Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent
Chairman of Group Marketing and Global Branding

We have actually travelled the world selectively over the years, we have done this for many, many years with a single minded mission and with the types of evangelist mind-set within our minds to try to share stories about Asia, stories about China, the experience that we have seen, the little world that we have built that turn into a digital nano nano world if you like.  The idea was to talk to people that shared the same values, the same visions and hopefully when there is better understanding between youngsters, we speak to children, we speak to university students and all that.  This common world that we each live in would be a much better place.  So we had to quickly step back and say what can we share with our friends from London? They are smart and intelligent people, Lincoln Inn and all that, they have not known.  The key thing is this, all of a sudden the world is faced with the largest economy but with the status of a developing nation.  When you talk about a developing nation the cultural thinking, mentality, the way of conducting business, the way that people look at power, the way that people look at executive power, how things are being done, decisions are being made, investments, what they call cross border currency. Transverse and audit are very different to what we are used to in the west.

Two weeks ago Goldman Sachs reported on China’s rise in AI clearly spelt out the next phase of disruption that will drive the revolutionary transformations of China from an industrial based economy to one that will be a consumption based economy.  So what I’m saying is that, in China, all of a sudden you have three big companies the world would have come to know as BAT, the Bai Du, Tencent Ali Baba.  It is a story about how a digital nation was transformed, a digital society was reformed, and above and behold the digital infrastructure and most of all a new era calling for new demands, new leads has arrived.  I am here simply to assure you that you have all it takes to continue to be the swot of the justice and let it be remembered that this is the firm that has defended Professor Deborah Lipstat in her lonely struggle for justice, and let it be known that it is this firm that was part of the Article 50 legal challenge that also means something in history, and finally when Nelson Mandela awarded the veterans of the struggle to some of our partners here, let us all learn that there is no disruption too great to overcome for those who have faith in the purpose and the righteousness of your struggle.  Thank you my lords.

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