China to hold world's first supply chain-themed national expo; US firms largest group among foreign multinationals to date
Published: Jun 09, 2023 02:58 PM Updated: Jun 10, 2023 12:59 AM
A new-energy vehicle factory in South China's Guangdong Province Photo: VCG

A new-energy vehicle factory in South China's Guangdong Province Photo: VCG

China will hold the first China International Supply Chain Expo in Beijing from November 28 to December 2, the world's first supply chain-themed national exhibition, with the aim of providing an international platform for advancing orderly and efficient industrial synergy across countries. About 100 enterprises have signed up for the event to date, with confirmed US companies forming the largest group among foreign multinationals, Chinese officials said on Friday.

The expo is being held at a time when the global supply chain is undergoing a critical stage of restructuring in the post-virus era, yet the process is being obstructed by certain Western countries' calls for "de-risking" from China, a "novel" word that has gone from obscurity to common usage in recent months but is nothing more than a continued attempt to isolate China.

Officials and observers said the platform underscores China's sincerity and readiness to stabilize and build up a resilient global supply chain, while continuing to push for greater opening-up that shares its business opportunities with the world, providing a stark contrast to US politicians' ill-intentioned moves that are also at odds with its business community's eagerness to deepen economic ties with China.

The expo is themed "connecting the world for a shared future," and will feature five major supply chains including smart vehicles, green agriculture, clean energy, digital technology and healthy living, Ren Hongbin, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) - organizer of the expo - said at a press briefing of the State Council Information Office on Friday.

The total expo area will exceed 100,000 square meters, and is expected to attract over 300 companies, with international exhibitors making up 30 percent of the total, Ren said.

As for professional purchasing agents and audience, the number is estimated to surpass 100,000, with international buyers from over 50 countries and regions accounting for 40 percent of the number.

Lin Shunjie, chairman of the China International Exhibition Center Group which is co-organizing the event, said at the expo's roadshow on Thursday night that among the foreign companies that have signed up for the event, those from the US are the largest in number, according to a statement CCPIT sent to the Global Times on Friday.

"The US companies I talk with are very pragmatic, and are looking to seize this rare opportunity. Many US firms said that they need to restructure their global supply chains after three years of COVID disruption, and it is impossible to neglect Chinese markets and Chinese companies [during the process]. This also shows that the expo comes at just the right time," Lin said.

Reception of the first China International Supply Chain Expo in Beijing, on June 8, 2023 Photo: courtesy of CCPIT

Reception of the first China International Supply Chain Expo in Beijing, on June 8, 2023 Photo: courtesy of CCPIT

Wang Jun, an expert at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday that the expo is important for safeguarding and strengthening global supply chains, as it is now faced with unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID snags and rising geopolitical tensions. 

"It is a timely response not only to the urgent need of China but also the world, to move cooperation from individual sectors like trade and finance, to deeper integration and high-level industrial chains," Wang said.

The announcement of the expo also comes after a number of CEOs from leading overseas multinationals have been paying visits to China in recent days, such as Tesla's founder Elon Musk and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Reuters also reported that LVHM chief Bernard Arnault is set to visit China this month.

Commenting on the slew of visits, Ren said executives of foreign companies, including Musk, expressed confidence in the Chinese economy during their visits. As a result, they have all pledged to continue investing in the Chinese market.

Observers said that the proactive visits by leading multinational executivess show a divergence between entrepreneurs and politicians, with the business community pledging deeper connections with the Chinese market - which is set to offer them a sense of assurance in business growth amid an increasingly unpredictable global environment. 

"The expo is also a gesture of openness to the world, showing that China is willing to open up its industrial chain and invite all global companies to share the dividends of China's economic growth," Tian Yun, former vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Chinese officials also said at the press briefing that China firmly opposes any so-called "decoupling" moves and will continue guaranteeing smooth supply chains.

Yu Jianlong, vice chairman of CCPIT, compared Chinese enterprises to the most vigorous "hematopoietic cell" in global supply chains, and noted that such cells are of great significance for blood circulation and global economic dynamics.

"China is the builder, contributor, and defender of the global industrial chain," Yu said, while denouncing attempts to "decouple" and "build barriers" that violate economic rules, harm others without benefiting oneself and are detrimental to global economic recovery.