While the global economy is clouded by uncertainties including the COVID-19 impact and stagflation risks, China, in its pursuit of modernization, is creating new opportunities much needed by businesses in the world.
As the Chinese economy bounces back from COVID and presses ahead with policies and actions to maintain steady and quality growth, leaders of multinationals attending a high-level forum in Beijing have expressed their confidence in China's economy and their businesses in the country.
China's accelerated efforts to promote modernization will infuse new vitality into the country's economy and create more opportunities for foreign companies, said Vincent Clerc, CEO of A.P. Moller-Maersk, a global shipping and logistics company, who attended the China Development Forum 2023 held from Saturday to Monday.
The annual high-level international conference has attracted 100 overseas delegates, many of whom are executives from leading multinationals endeavoring to take the pulse of the recovering Chinese market, as well as the growth drivers generated from innovation and sustainable development.
SHARED DIVIDENDS OF RESILIENT GROWTH
In its vision of modernization, China aims to build a great modern socialist country by the middle of this century, which makes it imperative to both effectively upgrade and appropriately expand the economy.
For multinationals, this means China will remain one of the most appealing investment destinations.
"When we talk about China's modernization, a key word for me is sharing," said Jakob Stausholm, CEO of Rio Tinto, one of the world's leading mining companies. "China has shared its development opportunities with the world in the past decades, and we believe it will continue to do so in its journey to modernization."
He said he is excited about China's new journey to modernization and the shared opportunities this presents, noting that China has become Rio Tinto's largest market, contributing over half of its annual global sales revenue.
China is still the most attractive investment destination in the world, and a strong engine of the global economy, said Milind Pant, CEO of Amway Corp.
Earlier this month, the company announced plans to invest 600 million yuan (about 87.32 million U.S. dollars) in transforming and upgrading its production base in south China's Guangzhou over the next five years.
The Chinese economy has seen major indicators improve since the start of this year, with brisk expansion in factory activity, an increase in industrial output and a rapid recovery in consumption.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised its projection for China's economic growth in 2023 to 5.2 percent. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and other investment banks have also revised their forecasts upwards.
Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, said China's economy is "seeing a strong rebound."
This means China is set to account for around one third of global growth in 2023, "giving a welcome lift to the world economy," she said at the forum.
SWEET SPOTS IN HIGH-QUALITY DEVELOPMENT
From low-carbon industries to digital technologies, multinationals are looking to tap new areas of growth in China's high-quality development, which authorities consider to be the first and foremost task in modernization.
China's modernization offers many opportunities that can benefit the world, particularly in sustainable development, said Stefan Hartung, CEO of Bosch, a German engineering and technology company.
Bosch recently announced 7 billion yuan of investment in east China's Suzhou for production and R&D on solutions for electromobility and automated driving, Hartung said, noting that China's rapid development of new-energy vehicles is key to achieving its carbon emission reduction objectives.
This undated photo shows a factory of Bosch at Sino-German Industrial Park in Shunyi District of Beijing, capital of China. (Sino-German Industrial Park/Handout via Xinhua)
Foreign enterprises have been encouraged to ride the waves of China's green transition, as the country underlines harmony between humanity and nature in modernization, while aiming to boost green and low-carbon industries.
Clerc, CEO of Maersk, said the company has noted China's increased efforts on sustainable development and its move to a low-carbon economy.
"We are very glad that we are working with strong Chinese partners to make the transition to green energy, and we believe in China's great potential in producing green methanol," Clerc said. Maersk is looking for green methanol to replace traditional fuel on its vessels.
Overseas firms are also eyeing business growth generated from China's efforts to spur innovation, which remains at the heart of China's modernization drive.
In late February, China rolled out a plan for the overall layout of the country's digital development, which has drawn the interest of Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon.
"The rapid rise of digital transformation has made it a powerful engine for economic growth," said Amon, adding that China has sped up the pace of digitalization, which brings vast opportunities to various parties, including Qualcomm.
This photo taken on March 20, 2023 shows a view of the Tianjin Artificial Intelligence Computing Center in north China's Tianjin. (Xinhua/Sun Fanyue)
China has advanced its infrastructure for the digital economy and is building a modern industrial system, said Pant of Amway Corp., noting that the company will explore smart organic farming in China to support rural revitalization through agricultural technology innovation.
In March last year, Rio Tinto established a China innovation and technology center in Beijing.
"Rio Tinto is committed to continuing our mutually beneficial cooperation well into the future, providing the materials that China needs for its green transition and working with partners in China to decarbonize the whole value chain," the company's CEO Stausholm said.