Land of opportunities
Updated: 2012-11-08 07:51
Land of opportunities that will be good for business
They are not just talking shop. When business people speak about what they expect from an upcoming political event, they express not only what they want, but also, given the right conditions, what they think they can do.
Indeed, since the beginning of the country's economic reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, international investors have learned to share a keen interest in political activities in Beijing with their local counterparts. This is because they understand that the government is willing, and regards itself as duty-bound, to respond to the various requirements needed for the nation's development. Moreover, the ideas expressed by the leaders in Beijing are often reflected in subsequent policies and exert a long-lasting influence.
At present, the world is four years into an economic slowdown that started with the financial meltdown on Wall Street.
China, the world leader in GDP growth, is inevitably experiencing a difficult period, one of slower economic expansion and painful adaptation.
The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, to open on Thursday, will witness the once-in-a-decade succession of the country's leadership team.
Will the new leaders continue to push the country in the direction of reform and opening-up? Will they make room for more economic and social innovations? Will they allow the country to remain the global champion in industrial growth? And will they continue to ensure the healthy development of the market economy?
In a recent survey of opinions conducted by China Daily, some of the international corporate giants operating in China express their expectations for the leadership succession in Beijing. As they will pay particular attention to the leadership change, they also expressed confidence that China will remain a land of opportunities.
The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China begins on Thursday. It will usher in the country's new leadership lineup and will in all likelihood have an important influence on economic development into the next decade - including the market environment for international corporations operating in China. In the run-up to the congress, China Daily conducted a survey of international companies on the event and their expectations for the country. The survey contained five questions.
Q1: Given that China’s economic growth cooled to a three-year low of 7.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, do you think the country can maintain relatively fast expansion during the coming decade? And do you think China will continue to be an important growth engine, both for the global economy and for your company?
Q2: As wages and operational costs rise, China’s export growth is no longer as robust as before and domestic consumption is still not strong enough to generate as much growth. Have these developments prompted your company to either delay or cancel any investment plans in the country? If not, why not?
Q3: What are your expectations for your company’s performance in China this year and over the next five years — in terms of sales and profits, in manufacturing and services? How do you view the performance of the industry in which your company operates?
Q4: What is your company’s greatest concern about doing business in China?
Q5: What measures do you expect from the new leadership to help improve the business environment for your business or your industry?
general manager, Air France-KLM, Greater China
1. In the aviation sector, the Chinese market remains extremely dynamic. With the need for air travel surging over the last 15 years, the growth of this market will remain strong in years to come. Today, domestic travel accounts for 85 percent of the total traffic in China, but this will undoubtedly evolve in favor of international traffic. Despite a gloomy economic situation in Europe, Air France, like KLM, continues to invest in China. As such, in April Air France inaugurated the first air link between Wuhan and Europe, offering services three times a week, following the opening of routes to Hangzhou in 2010 and Xiamen in 2011. It is not typical for an airline to open three new destinations in the same country over a span of three years, so it is obvious that China remains a strategic market for Air France-KLM. The Chinese market represents a challenge for the future and our ambition is to become the leading European company in the country and the preferred airline of Chinese customers.
2. Like other companies, we suffer from high fuel prices, which obviously affect the long-haul flights particularly, and we therefore are mindful of the implementation of a bonded fuel policy, especially in the secondary cities. In addition, we remain highly concerned about the rising operating costs at various airports as well as those of service providers.
3. Apart from our nine destinations in Greater China, Air France-KLM will continue to watch closely the fast-development of secondary cities, which we believe will generate a great deal of traffic growth toward Europe. Recent examples are Hangzhou, Xiamen and Wuhan, which are seeing the emergence of first-time travelers (to Europe). With seven destinations in the Chinese mainland, Air France-KLM is already well positioned in the market, and we are now working to consolidate these destinations. Also, our development in China, especially in secondary cities, will be pursued with our Chinese partners - China Southern, China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines, which will join the SkyTeam alliance on Nov 21. Thanks to partnerships such as these, we are offering 26 Chinese destinations this winter through code-share services with China Southern and China Eastern, connecting to our Paris-bound flights.