Faced with a predicted shortage of accountants as they shift into a market-oriented economy, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) looked abroad for a solution. From several world-wide competitors, they chose CGA Canada, the national association of Certified General Accountants, to help them replace their old accounting practices with a modern international system, and to train China’s accountants for the year 2000 and beyond.
“The CGA program will ensure that we meet international standards,” said Xu Weiqing, 26, one of four graduates from the first program under this agreement. In September 1996, Weiqing, along with Zhang Lie, Li Hongli, and Yue Zhao, completed the three-year CGA program at the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing. Most of these new CGAs are employed with joint-venture companies and are excited at the overwhelming opportunities awaiting accountants as a result of China’s developing economy.
“There is a great need of accountants,” said Sun Weiyan, UIBE president, in his address to the graduates. “We estimate maybe by the year 2000 we [will] need 300,000 accountants in China.”
Canada’s Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, commented on the innovative arrangement. “I am pleased,” he wrote, “that the PRC looked to CGA Canada for the technical expertise needed to modernize its accounting principles, standards and practices.” He described it as “yet another in a long line of accomplishments [for CGA Canada] in the field of international accounting.”
Speaking to a gathering of over 300 guests at the graduating ceremony, Howard Balloch, Canada’s ambassador to the PRC, stated he was aware of the crucial role which CGA Canada must perform in the PRC, and pointed out that accounting, as part of the soft infrastructure of China, is every bit as important as hydro power dams.
Currently the CGA is offering programs at several of the most prestigious universities in the PRC. These include the UIBE and Tsinghua University in Beijing, Jinan University in Guangzhou, Xiamen University in Fujian Province, Fudan University and the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Discussions are underway to extend the program to other Chinese universities.
Has CGA Canada been resting on its laurels since that graduation ceremony in Beijing? “Not so,” says Keith Scott, senior vice president of CGA International. “In 1986 CGA Canada became the first accounting program in the world to fully integrate computers into our program of studies. The innovative use of technology has added value and relevance to our program,” continued Scott. “It is one of the key reasons that the PRC chose CGA Canada. Today that same innovation continues. In January 1997, CGA Canada signed a multi-year strategic partnership with Microsoft Corporation. CGA Canada will be the first accounting program in the world to integrate the Internet with CD-ROM technology. Starting in the 1997-98 academic year, courses will become available on CD-ROM, allowing CGA students to download assignments for marking and have online interaction with instructors.”
CGA Canada represents 50,500 CGA members and students in Canada, the Caribbean, China and Hong Kong.