GE takes partnership route for long-term gains

Updated: 2011-12-09 10:20

By Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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GE takes partnership route for long-term gains

General Electric takes part in an industrial exhibition in Shanghai in September. [Jing Wei / for China Daily]

Technology and commercial partnerships between US businesses and Chinese enterprises can benefit both nations, said Mark Hutchinson, president and chief executive officer of General Electric Co (GE) China.

According to Hutchinson, such partnerships will help create jobs, spur innovation and expand markets for both nations.

GE, the world's biggest maker of power generation equipment and aircraft engines, entered China as early as 1906. It has 50 legal entities, including wholly owned companies, joint ventures and research and development (R&D) centers in China with more than 18,000 employees.

"All of GE's businesses have set up operations in China. We will team up with Chinese partners and introduce technologies, innovations, and also our experiences of how to operate as a global player," said Hutchinson.

But such moves by companies such as GE have raised concerns in the United States as many feel that strong Chinese companies may limit growth for US companies and, therefore, reduce job opportunities.

"It's not a zero-sum game, but a real win-win. When GE grows in China, so does our employee base in China and the United States," said Hutchinson, who joined GE 17 years ago and was appointed president and CEO for GE China on March 1.

The company exports high-tech equipment, including gas turbines and aircraft engines, to China every year, and creates jobs in the US. GE China does not just focus on China, but focuses globally, he added. GE has set up 50-50 joint ventures with Chinese companies in fields in which GE has expertise. The two sides work together and seek to grow global market share together, he said.

"When we think about jobs, we not only think about jobs in China. We also think about jobs in the United States. So what GE is doing is to create thousands of jobs in China and create thousands of jobs in the United States," Hutchinson said.

In the US, GE expects to add about 15,000 jobs this year, said Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE and head of US President Barack Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Immelt made the remarks in a CNN interview in September.

Although the global economy has been sluggish, the expected growth for GE has been realistic because of a relatively stronger economic performance in countries such as China.

"China is the world's fastest-growing market for aviation, energy, transportation, healthcare and financial services ... (GE's initiatives here) will create jobs in both China and the United States," Immelt wrote in a statement.

Joe Biden, the US vice-president, expressed a similar view that China's rise doesn't spell America's demise. A successful China can make the US more prosperous, not less, he wrote in an opinion piece in the New York Times on Sept 7.

Biden argued China and the US will have a stake in each other's success as trade and investment bind the two countries together. They also share "common challenges and responsibilities" and have incentives to work together on issues "from global security to global economic growth".