China vows to share devt dividends at key biz summit

China on Monday convened a global trade and investment promotion summit in Beijing with participation by hundreds of representatives from over 30 countries and regions and 170 foreign entities, in another major push by the world’s second-largest economy to boost cooperation amid growing geopolitical and trade tensions.

At the summit, hosted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), representatives of international organizations, multinational executives and foreign business groups commended China’s critical role in promoting global cooperation and major contribution to global economic development, especially as a rising tide of protectionism in some advanced economies seriously hinders global trade and investment.

While some Western officials and media outlets have stepped up smearing China’s economy and even sought to crack down on emerging Chinese industries, foreign businesses remain confident in the prospect of the Chinese economy and are committed to further expanding in the Chinese market, many business leaders from Asia, Europe and North America told the Global Times on Monday.

Promoting cooperation

The Global Trade and Investment Promotion Summit of 2024 was held in Beijing on Monday. In this third edition, the summit is another major platform to bring together Chinese and foreign business leaders to boost trade and investment cooperation. This year’s event was attended by more than 700 representatives, including over 300 representatives from 39 countries and regions and 170 foreign organizations, according to the CCPIT.

All 18 foreign business groups in China were also represented at the summit, and more than 20 senior executives from multinational corporations, including Dell, Tesla, IBM and Boeing attended the summit, the organizer said.

Addressing the opening ceremony on Monday, Chinese Vice President Han Zheng said that China will continuously expand high-level opening-up and share the development dividends with the world. A steadily growing, increasingly open Chinese economy will definitely add strong impetus to the world economy, Han said.

Among the major outcomes of the summit is the launch of the Beijing Initiative of the Global Trade and Investment Promotion Summit of 2024. The initiative called for global cooperation in five aspects, including accelerating the world economic recovery, maintaining the stability and smooth flow of industrial and supply chains, embracing the transformative force of artificial intelligence, and fostering momentum for green and low-carbon development.

“We welcome business communities from more countries to join the initiative, enrich its content, explore new forms and areas of cooperation, and work together for a stronger, greener and healthier global development,” read the initiative shared with the Global Times on Monday.

The summit is emblematic of China’s intensifying efforts and leadership role in promoting global cooperation in trade and investment, foreign representatives said at the summit, pointing to various Chinese initiatives and platforms for cooperation, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China International Import Expo.

Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China, commended China’s major role in helping stabilize global supply chains amid increasing levels of conflicts and major disruptions to supply chains.

“We need China’s leadership in the global landscape to promote more integration, more movement of good supplies and people so that we actually see a very integrated global business community,” Chatterjee said on the sidelines of the summit on Monday.

China has remained steadfast in advancing high-level opening-up. This year’s Government Work Report included a slew of opening-up measures, including lifting all market access restrictions on foreign investment in manufacturing and reducing market access restrictions in services sectors such as telecommunications and healthcare.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on April 30 also said that reform and opening up is an effective instrument for the cause of the Party and the people to make great strides in keeping up with the times.

In addition to opening its doors to foreign businesses, China has also hosted many high-level events to promote cooperation, including the China Development Forum in March, which attracted hundreds of global CEOs, the Boao Forum for Asia, which was attended by many global leaders and business executives. Last month, China also kicked off the 135th China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong, and the 4th China International Consumer Products Expo concluded in South China’s Hainan, which yielded many business deals.

“As the world is experiencing some economic difficulties, the approach from China has been very positive. It’s trying to reduce protectionism globally,” Edward Allison-Wright, member of Executive Committee and Board of Directors at World Trade Centers Association, said on the sidelines of the summit on Monday, noting that the world can share opportunities in China through initiatives such as the BRI.

In stark contrast, some advanced economies, particularly the US, have been turning more protectionist. US officials and media outlets have been relentlessly smearing China’s economic prospects and sought to suppress China’s leading industries with absurd claims such as “overcapacity,” with their latest targets being China’s new-energy industries like electric cars. Chinese officials have sharply criticized such groundless accusations as pretext for more protectionist crackdown measures.

Unwavering commitment

However, despite the relentless smear campaign against the Chinese economy, foreign business leaders remain upbeat about China’s growth prospects and are committed to operating and expanding in the Chinese market.

Simon Lichtenberg, Danish Chamber of Commerce in China’s National Founding Chairman & Founder and CEO of Trayton Group, said while Western media’s “different” portrayal of China sometimes makes it hard for companies to make the right decision, businesses are still coming to China.

“I think they want to [keep investing in China] and most of them will continue or even expand,” Lichtenberg told the Global Times at the sidelines of the summit on Monday, noting that the Chinese market is absolutely important for Danish businesses, as China contributed one-third of global growth last year.

In addition to China’s vast market scale, the steady economic recovery so far this year also helped lift confidence of foreign businesses in the Chinese economic prospects for this year and beyond.

“We were really pleased with Q1 and the growth that was higher than expected. So I think if we see a continuity of that growth, that’s a very positive sign. And we see more and more Canadian businesses coming [to China],” David Perez-Des Rosiers, Director of Beijing Chapter of Canada China Business Council, told the Global Times on Monday.

Despite downward pressure, China’s GDP expanded by 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2024, well above market expectations. Such a strong recovery momentum has continued into April, with a rising number of indicators pointing to steady rebound. China’s imports and exports roared back to growth in April after a significant drop in March.

“China’s economy has very good fundamentals,” Tan Sri Datuk Ter Leong Yap, Independent Non-Executive Chairman of Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad and Executive Chairman of Sunsuria Group, told the Global Times on Monday, adding that China’s economic development has great prospects and the company sees this as a good window of opportunities to come and invest in China.

Although some US officials are seeking to crack down on China’s new energy industries such as electric vehicles, foreign businesses actually see the rise of Chinese industries as an opportunity for cooperation.

“There are a lot of opportunities in the Chinese market and there are also a lot of opportunities for Chinese companies in the Italian market like in the electric vehicle and other sectors,” Andrea Croci, Board Member of China-Italy Chamber of Commerce, told the Global Times on Monday, adding that these Chinese industries are “very appealing. So I am quite confident.”

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