The majority of Chinese do not consider Canberra as a study destination and those that do find it too quiet, ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has found.
Ms Gallagher is in China, with University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker and Australian National University vice-chancellor Ian Young, to promote Canberra as a tertiary education and business destination.
They are touring major universities in Shanghai and Beijing.
Ms Gallagher says her trip has already found the majority of Chinese university students look to Sydney or Melbourne rather than Canberra when considering study in Australia.
She says the quietness of Canberra is also a challenge for some Chinese students.
"Having spent one night in Shanghai I can understand that. This city, I think, is the size of the Australian population, and it's a 24 hour operation. You can understand landing in Canberra and looking around at the open space," she said.
"I attended an alumni event last night and spoke to a number of students, and one of the things that kept coming back was 'there's no people in Canberra, you look around and don't see anybody'.
"I think we need to look at how we can turn that into a strength."
Ms Gallagher says there is a lot of work to do.
"Canberra rates very highly in China as a quality education destination amongst those that know about it, but the majority of people aren't aware of Canberra," she said.
Earlier this week Ms Gallagher toured one of Huawei's research and development facilities in Shanghai.
She says the telecommunications giant is keen to widen its relationship with the ACT community.
"They have agreed to provide an opportunity for two ACT students on a yearly basis to go over and do work experience or be exposed to work experience within their research and development and innovation centres," she said.
"Along with the opportunity for four academics to go over and be exposed to the work they're doing in Shanghai and Beijing."
Ms Gallagher says Huawei is impressed with the results of its sponsorship of the Canberra Raiders, which is its first global sports sponsorship deal.
"Through their sponsorship they feel a very strong affiliation to Canberra and they are very interested in creating stronger relationships and stronger links to the city," she said.
"They have been very pleased with the profile their sponsorship has delivered to the company."
Ms Gallagher says there are many opportunities on offer.
"It's hard to get your mind around the scale of what's happening here in China when you come from Australia," she said.
"The [Huawei] building itself is 1 kilometre in length and houses 10,000 people working specifically on research and development for the company.
"They have over 28 of these research and development centres across the country, they have 16 innovation centres.
"There's no doubt there's opportunities galore if people wanted them, and I think starting with exposing students early in their careers, as they're going through their degrees, is a great way of doing that."