Foreign firms still bullish on China market

China Daily
China's latest emphasis on nurturing new quality productive forces as well as the efficient policies introduced are boosting confidence among multinational companies.
China Daily
Foreign firms still bullish on China market

A view of the Huangpu River in Shanghai.

China's latest emphasis on nurturing new quality productive forces as well as the efficient policies introduced during the annual sessions of the country's top legislative and political advisory bodies are boosting confidence among multinational companies.

Highlighting that technological decoupling poses a big risk to global economic recovery, company executives and experts said that China holds great appeal for multinationals, as they see more opportunities in areas such as artificial intelligence, smart automobiles and advanced manufacturing.

Eager to turn those prospects into reality, foreign companies are ramping up investment, expanding their business lines and chalking up medium- to long-term plans for steady growth, with a rosy view of China's high-quality economic upgrade in the coming years.

Frank Meng, chairman of Qualcomm China, said he is intrigued by the concept of new quality productive forces, as the phrase was highlighted in this year's Government Work Report and ignited mounting enthusiasm across the country.

Meng said that the wireless communication industry in which the United States chip company operates offers strong support for nurturing new quality productive forces, and Qualcomm has been expanding its local business, from its traditional offering of chips and solutions for smartphones to providing the same for personal computers, cars and more devices.

"China's smart car industry has shown strong momentum globally last year. … We have helped 40-plus Chinese automotive brands in launching more than 100 new models with intelligent connectivity capabilities," he said.

Underscoring Qualcomm's confidence in the long-term prospects of the Chinese economy, Meng said, "Qualcomm has consistently considered China as a pivotal business partner and valued customer, viewing it as more than just a market or a link in the supply chain".

As China promised in the Government Work Report to launch an "AI plus" initiative to accelerate the technology's commercial use, foreign companies are eager to tap into the next trillion-dollar opportunity in the world's second-largest economy.

Chen Xudong, chairman and general manager of IBM Greater China Group, said AI is projected to enhance human productivity and unlock $4.4 trillion in value per year globally by 2030. It will offer a competitive edge to individuals and organizations that effectively leverage its capabilities.

"According to a recent survey by IBM, the AI adoption rate of Chinese enterprises is among the highest in the world, with 85 percent of surveyed Chinese companies saying that they will accelerate the application of AI in the future," Chen said.

"We remain committed to making further contributions to China's digital economy through co-creation with our Chinese partners," he said.

Strategic shift

Denis Depoux, global managing director of market consultancy Roland Berger, said the concept of new quality productive forces indicates China's strategic shift toward modern and sustainable economic growth.

The term new quality productive forces refers to new productive forces that emerge from continuous advances in science and technology, driving strategic future and emerging industries that could introduce breakthrough technological advancements in an era of intelligent information.

"Technology and innovation are key to bringing disruptive changes to the Chinese economy. We have seen China leapfrogging in some new areas such as electric vehicles, energy storage, aerospace, solar photovoltaics and wind energy," Depoux said.

As the innovation-driven development strategy gains traction in China, "in the future, we may see more similar patterns in industries such as healthcare, new materials and artificial intelligence", Depoux added.

In 2023, foreign direct investment in China's high-tech industries reached 423.3 billion yuan ($59 billion), accounting for 37.3 percent of the country's total utilized FDI, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce, said the proportion of high-tech investment in the overall FDI in China has been increasing in the past five years, indicating that more foreign-funded enterprises are participating in the country's drive to build advanced industrial chains and attaching greater importance to research and development.

Yin Zheng, executive vice-president for China and East Asia operations at Schneider Electric SE, a French industrial and technology conglomerate, said he believes that new quality productive forces involve digital productivity and green productivity, which will open broader development opportunities in China.

Huang Chenhong, president of SAP Greater China, said the German tech company sees robust growth opportunities from Chinese companies' strong demand for cloud computing technologies and sustainable development this year.

Special Reports