France rolls out red carpet for Chinese

Updated: 2013-07-08 07:42

By Li Xiang (China Daily)

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France rolls out red carpet for Chinese

French President Francois Hollande greets Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Chinese PC maker Lenovo Group, who led the visiting delegation of the China Entrepreneur Club at the Elysee Palace. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]

France rolls out red carpet for Chinese

Top mainland business team sees bright spots amid Europe's economic gloom

No foreign business delegation was ever offered such a high-profile reception at the Elysee Palace as a group of Chinese entrepreneurs received recently.

French President Francois Hollande rolled out the red carpet for the first time for a group of 40 of China's wealthiest entrepreneurs who were on a week-long visit to France to explore business opportunities.

The VIP treatment was no surprise given the delegation's economic clout. It comprised members of the China Entrepreneur Club, an influential private association whose member companies have combined revenues in excess of 2 trillion yuan ($326 billion), or about 4 percent of China's GDP.

The entrepreneurs included Liu Chuanzhi, founder of China's largest PC maker Lenovo Group, Cao Guowei, chairman and CEO of, Yu Minhong, president of New Oriental Education & Technology Group, and Guo Guangchang, chairman of the Fosun Group.

The arrival of Chinese entrepreneurs was seen as timely in France as the country is fighting an uphill battle against recession and an unemployment rate that has reached a 14-year high of 10.8 percent.

The visit also took place amid the trade dispute between China and Europe over solar panel exports that many feared could trigger a much wider trade war between two of the world's biggest trading blocs.

In a speech to the visiting entrepreneurs, Hollande reiterated France's willingness to attract more Chinese investment, which could help improve the French job market and enable its companies to expand in the global market.

"I want to create all the conditions to ensure Chinese companies can invest more in Europe, and particularly in France," he said.

China was the eighth-largest foreign investor in France last year, with 31 investment projects creating 645 jobs. However, Chinese investment in France represents only 4 percent of the total foreign investment in the country, far behind the United States (23 percent) and Germany (16 percent), according to Invest in France Agency, a government body that facilitates foreign investment in the country.

To balance investment and trade relations with China, Hollande mentioned several areas, including food, health and urban development, where China and France could increase cooperation.

"Europe needs China for its own growth and China needs Europe to develop its business and to gain access to the technology of tomorrow," Hollande said.

"The current rebalancing of Chinese growth in favor of domestic demand, and measures taken to increase the flexibility of its foreign exchange system, are in the interests of both China and Europe."

The Chinese business leaders agreed with these views and said they hoped their visit to France could help to create substantial business partnerships.

"Chinese entrepreneurs are interested in areas that are closely related to Chinese markets and consumers, such as retail, healthcare, agriculture and consumer products," said Lenovo's Liu, the head of the business delegation.

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