Despite rising external uncertainties, multinational companies remain committed to China as they plan to expand their local footprint and investment, and are impressed by the nation’s latest commitment to high-standard opening-up and high-quality economic development, global business leaders said.
In a report that Xi Jinping delivered at the opening session of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Sunday, he stressed the need to promote high-standard opening-up and accelerate efforts to foster a new pattern of development.
Seeing big opportunities in areas such as carbon neutrality, advanced manufacturing and innovation-driven development, foreign companies increasingly value China’s multiple roles as a vast market, a crucial part of global supply chains and a pioneering research and development hub, senior executives said in a series of interviews with China Daily.
Tao Lin, vice-president of US electric carmaker Tesla, said the report highlighted that further advancing opening-up is a key feature of the new era, and as a beneficiary of such efforts, the company is convinced that “it will create more value in this vigorous and dynamic land”.
“Thanks to the Chinese government’s decision to scrap limits on foreign ownership of electric vehicle companies, Tesla became the first wholly foreign-owned vehicle manufacturer in the country,” Tao said.
“Now, Tesla is even more deeply engaged in China’s promising domestic market.”
In addition, over 95 percent of Tesla China’s industrial chain is now localized, which serves as a bond for Tesla to forge a better future together with local new energy vehicle brands and demonstrates the great strength of “Made in China” to the rest of the world, Tao added.
Hou Yang, chairman and CEO of Microsoft Greater China, said that due to China’s increased opening-up and its economic vitality, foreign companies have more opportunities to invest in the nation, and the Chinese market has become increasingly appealing.
“China’s ever-improving economic foundations and technological innovation capabilities have enabled it to demonstrate its strong resilience and flexibility in the face of risks,” Hou said, adding that the company will increase its local workforce to over 10,000 next year by adding about 1,000 new jobs.
Such sentiment is in line with recent figures pointing to the strong momentum of foreign direct investment in China. FDI in the Chinese mainland, in terms of actual use, grew 16.4 percent year-on-year to 892.7 billion yuan ($123.5 billion) in the first eight months of this year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Wu Dongming, CEO of DHL Express China, said that amid challenges and pressures, China’s economic stability is the biggest contribution to the world economy and global supply chains.
“Looking forward, China’s focus on sustainable development will greatly benefit international trade,” Wu said, adding that the company tested its first pilot hydrogen fuel cell truck in Shanghai last month, as part of the German logistics firm’s broader push to experiment with the latest green technology and boost investment in the country.
China’s high-quality development agenda and its growing innovation prowess are also boosting business leaders’ confidence, as these promise big potential for future growth.
China has moved up to 11th place in the 2022 Global Innovation Index from 34th a decade ago, and remains the only middle-income economy in the top 30, according to the latest ranking published by the World Intellectual Property Organization in late September.
Wang Lei, global executive vice-president of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, said he was encouraged by the report’s emphasis that innovation will remain at the heart of China’s modernization drive.
“China’s innovation-driven development strategy will create more opportunities for us, as the country has become a very important part of our global innovation as well as our R&D network,” Wang said.
Looking ahead, experts forecast that China’s growth engines could be revving up as it heads into 2023, which will motivate more foreign businesses to increase their investment in the nation.
Christine Lam, CEO of Citi China, said as the nation’s economy charts its own path despite global economic uncertainties, China “will provide global investors with a hedge in an increasingly uncertain world and, given its sheer scale, a cushion for global growth”.
Lam said the company’s multinational clients invested $100 billion “in China, for China” to innovate and manufacture locally in the 24 months ending last December.
“This expansion will likely continue as China opens up further and provides a level playing field for those committed to serving this market,” she added.