Particular business opportunities under China's new leadership

Updated: 2013-04-20 09:30

By Cecily Liu (

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China Daily UK and accountancy firm BDO LLP jointly hosted a forum to discuss dynamics of the China-UK business environment, and in particular opportunities for businesses engagement under China's new leadership.

Xie Songxin, head of China Daily Europe, said China Daily UK is very pleased to co-host the forum, as it is the first it has co-hosted in Europe.

"We are so pleased to work with BDO to give an opportunity to see what China's new leadership means for Europe. There will be more such events, and I hope such events will be useful to audience here," Xie said.

Held on Friday at BDO's London office, the conference was attended by around a hundred guests from Britain's business community.

The morning discussions focused on the broad picture of China's economic growth and reform after the country's leadership change, which completed this March at China's Two Sessions conference.

While most speakers believe China's new leadership would bring more continuity than change to China's business environment, they also pointed out that China's new leaders will perhaps do more to bring social changes and sustainable growth to China.

Fu Xiaolan, professor of technology and international development at Oxford University says that China's new leadership places great emphasis on sustainable growth, as can be reflected in President Xi Jinping's speech at this year's Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in south China's Hainan Province.

"President Xi Jinping mentioned that China will not continue with a two digit growth, but pay more attention to environmental concerns like air pollution, and achieve sustainable growth," Fu said.

Fu added that there are great opportunities for UK businesses in China in sectors the Chinese government identified as strategically important in its 12th five year plan (2011-2015), as often special funds are allocated to help these sectors grow.

Fu's views are echoed by many other speakers including Sharon Shi, a partner at Eversheds, an international law firm, Joan Turley, author of the book Connecting with China, and Jeff Cao, head of Asia Pacific at London & Partners, London's government investment agency.

"The Chinese government is very open about what it wants to achieve for China's economy, as the 12th five year plan places specific numbers on targets, which is helpful for businesses to do long term planning," Shi said.

The conference's afternoon discussions focused on the theme of Chinese companies going global, and two successful Chinese companies shared with the audience their strategy of gaining a decent share in the UK's relatively mature market.

One company is the Chinese healthcare equipment maker Mindray. Founded in Shenzhen in 1991, Mindray sat up an UK office in 2006, and now supplies medical equipment to a range of UK customers, including the National Healthcare System.

Su Lei, account manager of Mindray UK, says the key to success is innovation. "Innovation is at the core of our corporate culture. We listen carefully to customer requirements, and we don't just meet but exceed expectations," Su said.

The other company is the Chinese telecommunications equipment and network solutions provider ZTE. Founded in 1985 in Shenzhen, ZTE has since become the world's fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer by shipments and the fifth-largest telecom equipment maker by sales.

Jason Yang, managing director of ZTE UK, says localization is an important part of ZTE's international strategy. He says that around 70 out of 100 employees running ZTE's UK operations are locals, and he expects this number to increase in the future.

Yang added that ZTE has learnt many valuable lessons from working in partnership with UK's leading network operators, and his team will work hard to maintain these relationships.

The conference received positive feedback from its audience, many of whom found the range of topics covered in the program and the insight offered by the speakers particularly helpful.

"The conference is very well organized. In particular, I think Su and Yang represent a new generation of young Chinese business leaders who speak to their audience in a sincere and open way, which made them easy to engage with. They present a good image of Chinese companies abroad," says Michelle Chen, director of China Business at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, a law firm.

Turley added that China's rapidly growing engagement with the UK is clearly reflected in the number of distinguished Chinese speakers at the conference.

"Just 18 months ago, I would go to a conference focusing on China and the panel discussions would consist of mainly western speakers. But this morning we heard great insight from Chinese speakers on panel discussions, which is great," she said.

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