China welcomes first major offline international trade fair since COVID-19 outbreak

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/4 13:29:26 Last Updated: 2020/9/4 15:39:59

CIFTIS Photo:Li Hao/GT

China is set to welcome the country's first major offline international trade fair on Friday following its effective prevention of COVID-19, with Chinese President Xi Jinping expected to deliver a speech at the event. 

The event, the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), will be held at the China National Convention Center - nearby the famous Bird's Nest, the main stadium of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games - and is expected to be another "banquet" for global business delegations. 

The fair not only demonstrates China has effectively balanced economic development with anti-virus prevention measures, but also that China will continue its policy of opening-up and increase its role in global trade, which has been severely impacted by the virus, analysts said. 

Global Times on Friday morning found the fair's eye-catching billboards remind attendees to wear face masks, and ensure they abide by social distancing rules and wash their hands frequently 

A worker of the fair told the Global Times that all employees and volunteers must undergo nucleic acid testing for COVID-19. He added that after nucleic acid testing is completed, spot checks will be conducted from time to time during the exhibition, including body temperature testing.

According to the organizer's anti-pandemic prevention measures, the fair suggests that visitors complete their registration for the event online. Although on-site registration is also allowed, a green health QR code and body temperature check are necessary before entering the event. 

Photo: Li Hao/GT

"The fair shows China has had the world's best epidemic prevention response, which is closely related to the government's effective governance mechanisms." Zhu Bin, Greater China Investment Advisory Director of the Swedish Trade & Invest Council, told the Global Times on Friday, adding that European companies - such as those in Sweden - have shown they want to attend the offline event, as they believe it is a good chance to share China's business opportunities.

Two of China's vaccine front runners - among the most attention-grabbing at this year's event - offer some insight into the nation's leadership when containing the pandemic. 

"We have launched [coronavirus vaccine] clinical research in many countries including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Argentina, Peru, and Morocco. Meanwhile, we have also maintained close communication with the WHO and joined the WHO-initiated solidarity trial for COVID-19 treatments," Zhang Yuntao, vice president and chief scientist of China National Biotec Group (CNBG), told the Global Times on Friday. 

Among CNBG's product lineup on display at the event are its inactivated vaccine and immune globulin for COVID-19 treatment.

It's hoped that the event can serve as a platform to ramp up global regulatory cooperation to begin delivering COVID-19 vaccines to the masses as quickly and safely as possible, Pearson Liu, spokesman for NASDAQ-listed Chinese vaccine developer Sinovac Biotech, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Sinovac's inactivated vaccine against COVID-19 - CoronaVac - was also showcased at the services tradeshow. 

For the COVID-19 vaccine to be made available to the public, a Phase III clinical study must be completed, and study results must be approved by the regulatory authorities, Liu said, disclosing that the company is hoping for the vaccine to be licensed for use by the year's end.

Analysis and clinical trials for the vaccine are being completed domestically as well as in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, with original data in the hands of local researchers. There is no precedence for Phase III clinic trials conducted overseas to be evaluated for a license to be granted domestically. 

Liu revealed he had received multiple inquiries from overseas media outlets which were eager to know whether the company's vaccine would be registered in and shipped to their respective markets.

Sinovac's designed production capacity for the vaccine is 300 million doses per annum. 

Beijing-based AI firm Megvii Technology, known for its facial recognition brand Face++, heads the sci-tech efforts to host the in-person CIFTIS. The company revealed to the Global Times on Friday that it provides facial scanning for attendees to swiftly check in and therefore avoid mass gatherings. 

The company also equips the event's meeting venues with smart temperature screening to enable contactless, efficient, and precise temperature detection. Furthermore, it furnishes the event with smart management that is capable of delivering real-time alerts and reminders in case people are found in close proximity to each either or without masks.

Officials of China's Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that international and domestic exhibitors have shown strong enthusiasm for the event, and the number of participating companies and the event's scale have both exceeded previous years.

More than 100 guests including heads of international organizations, senior government officials, and ambassadors to China confirmed their participation as of the end of August. Over 70 executives of 43 Fortune 500 companies and 20 multinational companies including Ericsson, IBM, SAP, Philips, Siemens, Schneider and Dell have all confirmed their participation. 

Nearly 60 heads of overseas trade associations, including the American Chamber of Commerce in China, the Canada-China Business Association, the China-Britain Business Association, and the Federation of German Industries have also confirmed their attendance.

CIFTIS has been successfully held for six consecutive years. It has attracted a cumulative total of 10,000 companies, as well as 300 international organizations and foreign business associations from 184 countries and regions, achieving an estimated turnover of $529.33 billion.

According to Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Bingnan, China's imports of services will exceed $10 trillion in the next 15 years, and China's services market will open wider.

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