THE former chairman of New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has apologised for reportedly telling business people not to trust the Chinese.
Sir Henry van der Heyden reportedly told a Tauranga business women’s conference that people wanting to do business with China needed to do so with their eyes open.
He told one person that previous bad experiences of businesses in China should be seen as learning experiences, the Bay of Plenty Times reported.
“That’s my point about China. You will be full of surprises. Don’t ever trust them … never,” he said.
Sir Henry, who was at his final Fonterra board meeting as a director on Tuesday and is about to become the head of the Auckland International Airport board, has since apologised.
He said he was trying to say things were often done differently in the Chinese cultural setting.
“It was within the context of saying it’s a different culture,” he told Radio New Zealand.
“It was an ill-judged comment I made and I do regret actually making the comment and I have apologised to China, its government and its people.”
He said the comment didn’t reflect Fonterra’s attitude towards China.
Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, lost $201 million when writing off its 43 per cent shareholding in the Chinese company at the centre of the 2008 poisoned milk scandal which killed six babies and sickened nearly 300,000 more.