By Xinhua Writer Wang Siyuan
BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Global firms are endeavoring to take the pulse of the recovering Chinese market, with some making long-awaited business trips and others staying on top of the latest policy moves.
For Oliver Blume, chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, his recent business trip to China proved a definite source of optimism.
"China is the most important market for us, and we will continue to expand our product lineup in the country," Blume said in an interview with Xinhua.
Right after the Spring Festival holiday, Blume used a full week to visit the cities of Beijing, Changchun, Shanghai and Hefei, exchanging ideas with his Chinese colleagues, business partners and representatives from local governments.
Such face-to-face talks and intensive onsite visits have led to a deeper understanding of the Chinese market. "We predict that the Chinese automobile market will sustain its recovering momentum in 2023, and the market prospect of new energy vehicles is particularly bright," said Blume.
Bullish on China's economy, he said Volkswagen would build new technology partnerships in the Chinese market.
Volkswagen AG is not the only global heavyweight seeking to accurately understand the Chinese economy to enable it to grasp market opportunities.
After China optimized its COVID-19 response, dozens of multinationals have reached out to the Ministry of Commerce for assistance in arranging their business visits in China, Shu Jueting, a spokesperson of the ministry said earlier at a press conference.
To better meet the needs of multinationals, Shu said the ministry would strengthen regular exchanges with foreign-invested companies and overseas business associations and fully implement the national treatment of foreign-funded firms.
On Wednesday at a news briefing dedicated to foreign businesses in China, Vice Minister of Commerce Sheng Qiuping reaffirmed China's commitment to continuously advance opening-up.
Sheng introduced in detail the positive signals released by this year's government work report, as well as the country's favorable conditions for foreign firms to expand their investment, including a growing market scale, extended incentives from opening-up policies and new growth momentums that are emerging.
Leon Wang, executive vice president of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, showed a keen interest in China's policy environment and paid particular attention to the government work report.
"China has renewed its pledge to intensify efforts to attract and utilize foreign investment in this year's government work report. We think the country's further opening-up and a better business environment for overseas companies can be expected," said Wang.
"As one of the world's biggest medical markets, China has become AstraZeneca's most important growth engine," he said.
In 2023, AstraZeneca will speed up research and development in China, and rely on its regional headquarters in Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Qingdao to promote whole industry integration.
The company is also looking forward to the Boao Forum for Asia and China Development Forum in late March, and will hold offline activities themed as "AstraZeneca R&D China Science Day" in Shanghai.
A recent survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China also pointed to growing optimism, as over 90 percent of the surveyed companies said they considered China to be one of their most important investment destinations, with 75 percent of the respondents planning to reinvest in China in 2023.
Official data from the Ministry of Commerce shed light on the investment dynamics. In the first two months of 2023, foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 6.1 percent year on year to 268.44 billion yuan (or 39.71 billion U.S. dollars).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has raised its projection for China's economic growth in 2023 to 5.2 percent. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and other investment banks have also revised their forecasts upwards.
With the synergy effect of various policies in play, China's economy is expected to pick up and again become an important "locomotive" of global economic growth, said Zhang Ming, deputy director of the Institute of Finance under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
For Leon Wang, the year's official growth target of around 5 percent is a strong suggestion of China's determination to stabilize its economy.
"We have also seen the country's resolution in optimizing and deepening reform in the service sector, which is a shot in the arm for AstraZeneca," he said.