Strong appeal to foreign companies sustained by unwavering opening-up
‘China is land of opportunity’ in volatile world
Published: Sep 22, 2022 08:08 PM
A pedestrian street in Shanghai Photo: VCGG

A pedestrian street in Shanghai Photo: VCG

China's attractiveness to foreign enterprises has strengthened over the past decade as a result of wider market opening and an improving business environment, and it will continue to serve as the land of opportunity in a world beset by uncertainty and volatility.

German chemical giant BASF recently put into operation the first batch of plants of its Verbund site in Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province. The site, with a total investment of 10 billion euros ($10 billion), will be the largest single investment by a German enterprise in China.

Leading global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced plans to set up the regional headquarters of AstraZeneca China in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province.

Vigorous efforts by multinationals this year to expand their presence in China's markets further indicate that the country remains a preferred investment destination. After reaching a record high in 2021, foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, went up 20.2 percent year-on-year to $138.41 billion in the first eight months.

Solid progress

Wang Xiaohong, with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, attributed China's strong appeal to global businesses to the country's solid progress in building an open economy.

In 2013, China set up its first pilot free trade zone in Shanghai, a testing ground of new opening-up policies. After five rounds of expansion, China now has 21 such zones.

The country's negative list for foreign investment has been shortened every year since 2017, and laws and regulations, including the Foreign Investment Law, were being put into implementation to step up protection for foreign investors.

China's business environment has continued to improve with its ease of doing business ranking ascending to 31 in 2019 from 91 in 2012, according to a World Bank report.

As China steadily expanded institutional opening-up and actively fostered a market-oriented and law-based international business environment, foreign investors were able to enjoy more opportunities. For example, in 2018, the country removed restrictions on foreign investment in new-energy vehicles. 

Going forward, China's commitment to reform and opening-up will remain unshakable.

Han Wenxiu, an official with the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, said China will make use of its super-large market, expand high-level opening-up, and promote the "dual circulation" of domestic and international markets.

The 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services that concluded in Beijing two weeks ago is the latest example of the country's efforts in promoting cooperation and opening-up. Over 7,800 companies joined the trade fair online and more than 2,400 enterprises took part on-site, making it a fruitful event with 1,339 projects and contracts signed.

In November, Shanghai will host the fifth China International Import Expo, which will bring together over 280 Fortune Global 500 companies and industry leaders.
Despite a growing trend of de-globalization, China has been forging ahead with opening-up and taking concrete steps to share its development dividends, demonstrating its unwavering commitment to mutual benefits and win-win cooperation, Wang said.