Text/Hua Zhuoma

Including Apple's CEO Tim Cook's second visit to China in seven months, another wave of foreign executives has recently arrived in China.

Since the beginning of this year, senior executives of multinational companies have repeatedly visited China, either to participate in international conferences, or to meet with government departments, or to conduct on-site inspections, expressing their willingness to strengthen cooperation and deepen China's cultivation in different ways.

What attracts them?

Executives of foreign companies have set off multiple rounds of visits to China

On October 10, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited China.

During his meeting with Cook in Beijing, Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao said that China will firmly promote high-level opening-up, continue to expand market access, and strive to create a market-oriented, law-based and international business environment.

Cook said that Apple cherishes the achievements made in China's 30 years of development, supports the US and Chinese governments to strengthen communication and dialogue, maintain and develop stable bilateral economic and trade relations, and create a good environment for pragmatic cooperation between the two companies.

On the same day, Wang Wentao also met with Shi Wan, chairman of the board of directors of Roche Group, and his party. Wang Wentao said that he welcomed Roche Group to continue to take root in China and share development opportunities. Schwann introduced the global business development of Roche Group and expressed his willingness to continue to cultivate the Chinese market.

Since the beginning of the year, senior executives of foreign companies have almost "queued" to visit China.

In September alone, executives from SABIC, Ingka Group, Solvay Group of Belgium, and Mediterranean Shipping Company of Switzerland met with the Ministry of Commerce.

Around May, executives from Tesla, Starbucks, Sanofi, Intel, ADM, Rio Tinto and other multinational companies visited China one after another.

In April, a CEO business delegation of more than 4 French business leaders, 50 Brazilian business executives, and a Russian business delegation of more than 250 people accompanied their country's leaders to China.

Since March, China's Minister of Commerce has met intensively with executives from more than 3 multinational companies, including Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and Qualcomm. Executives from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Takeda, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Merck, Medtronic and many other large multinational pharmaceutical companies have also started their visits to China.

Chen Jianwei, a professor at the National Institute of Opening-up at the University of International Business and Economics, said that the intensive visits of foreign executives to China mean that China, as an important destination for foreign investment, still has a huge market attraction in the world, and China's door to opening up to the outside world is getting wider and wider.

According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Commerce on the 20th, 37814,32 foreign-invested enterprises were newly established in the country in the first three quarters, a year-on-year increase of 4.<>%.

Break through the "blocking points" and optimize the business environment

Doing business depends on a convenient business environment.

Since the beginning of this year, China has further optimized the environment for foreign investment, lifted restrictions on foreign investment in the manufacturing sector, and provided a more market-oriented, law-based and international business environment for foreign investment.

In August, the State Council issued the Opinions on Further Optimizing the Foreign Investment Environment and Increasing the Efforts to Attract Foreign Investment, further optimizing the foreign investment environment with 8 guiding opinions.

In response to issues of great concern to foreign investors and the market, such as the national treatment and asset protection for investment in China, the Opinions put forward a new batch of highly targeted and high-value policies and measures to stabilize foreign investment, and solved many "blockages" in the previous investment of foreign-invested enterprises in China in terms of policy orientation.

In October, at the opening ceremony of the 10rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, China once again announced the blockbuster news: the full lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in the manufacturing sector.

According to the Special Administrative Measures (Negative List) for the Access of Foreign Investment (2021 Edition), the manufacturing industry has been basically completely opened, with only two items remaining: "the printing of publications must be controlled by the Chinese party" and "investment in the application of processing technologies such as steaming, frying, broiling and calcining of Chinese herbal decoction pieces and the production of confidential prescription products for proprietary Chinese medicines" are retained.

In addition, the Special Administrative Measures (Negative List) for the Access of Foreign Investment in Pilot Free Trade Zones (2022 Edition), which came into effect on 1 January 1, has been reduced to 2021 items, including 27 prohibited items and 17 restricted items, achieving zero manufacturing items in the negative list of pilot free trade zones.

So far, the negative list for foreign investment access in the manufacturing sector has been "cleared". Li Gang, vice president of the China Association of International Trade, said in an interview with China News Service that there will be a better environment for attracting foreign investment in the manufacturing sector in the future, and it is believed that more multinational companies will be willing to continue to invest in China.

Chen Wenling, chief economist, deputy director of the Executive Board and deputy director of the Academic Committee of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that the full abolition of foreign investment access restrictions in the manufacturing sector means that in the future, China's manufacturing industry will continue to transform and upgrade, and foreign investment will be barrier-free.

Yang Danhui, director of the Resources and Environment Research Office of the Institute of Industrial Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with China News Service that China's negative list is being adjusted every year and is getting shorter and shorter. The announcement of the complete cancellation of foreign investment access restrictions in the manufacturing sector is also a clear signal to foreign businessmen: China's door to the outside world will be opened wider and wider, the business environment will be better and better, and the degree of trade and investment facilitation will be higher and higher.

This continuous open business environment continues to open the "door of opportunities" for foreign investment to enter China.

Zhao Beiwen, deputy director of the Institute of World Economy of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with China News Service that China's attraction to foreign investment lies in the institutional innovation brought about by institutional opening-up and the corresponding innovation practices, which come from a more market-oriented, law-based and international first-class business environment.

New opportunities for foreign investment to enter China have emerged

To do business, you also need a vast market full of potential.

China is speeding up industrial transformation and upgrading, Zhang Huanbo, director of the U.S. and European Research Department of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that in the process, it will selectively attract some high-end strategic emerging industry enterprises. Many multinational companies have a mid-to-high-end industrial chain layout, which is in line with the trend of China's industrial transformation and upgrading, among which high-end R&D centers and products have market advantages in China.

Taking the biomedical industry as an example, Zhang Huanbo mentioned that China has proposed the whole industry chain to promote pharmaceutical innovation, and from a global perspective, biomedical innovation is an important area of scientific and technological revolution, and China's relevant departments are also stepping up the issuance of relevant guidance on the implementation of biomedical innovation and opening-up, "multinational pharmaceutical companies are very concerned about the Chinese market".

At the 2023 Annual Meeting of the China Development Forum held earlier this year, AstraZeneca announced that it would once again expand its investment in China, building a production and supply base for Budigfur inhalation aerosols in Qingdao, with a total investment of about US$4 million. AstraZeneca said that the implementation of the project will promote the Qingdao plant to become an important part of its global pharmaceutical supply chain. Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert said that by 5, Pfizer plans to submit marketing applications for about 2025 innovative drugs in China, covering oncology, vaccines, anti-infection, inflammation and immunity and many other fields.

In addition, Yang Danhui introduced that in the digital economy, green and low-carbon fields will also give birth to new industries and formats; In the construction of a modern industrial system, China's industrial chain and supply chain are still being integrated. All of the above will create new opportunities for foreign investment.