China will continue its commitment to foreign investment and to the creation of a level playing field for foreign businesses in “the new normal” during this year’s China Development Forum.
“At a sensitive time when foreign businesses are making decisions over their (China) strategies, the government should put the foreign businesses’ minds at rest,” said Lu Mai, secretary-general of the China Development Research Foundation, which is the organizer of the CDF.
Not only does China need foreign investment but China also wants fair competition that is good for both foreign and domestic companies, said Lu.
The State Council-backed forum, which will be held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing from March 21 to March 23, will focus this year on China’s economic development under the new normal of slower, more sustainable growth.
As the transition to the new normal confirms the end of China’s breakneck growth, so too does it mark the end to an era of double-digit growth for foreign companies.
A new reality of rising domestic competitors, stricter regulatory enforcement and shrinking margins has left many foreign companies unsure of their future prospects in China.
However, positive signs such the upcoming Foreign Investment Law, the China-US Bilateral Investment Treaty and pilot schemes in the country’s four Free Trade Zones point to a clear government stance of openness.
It is expected that more specific declarations will be made at the CDF regarding the future of foreign investment, according to Lu.
Other main topics for discussion include large policy directions such as the rule of law and the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative.
Since its inception in 2000, the CDF is held every year on the first weekend after the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Lu said the forum is held during that time as it is the most opportune time for the forum to fulfill its mission of engaging China with the world.
“Most of the major government policies would have been decided and approved by the NPC. So it is the right time to let the world know about Chinese economic policies and provide a platform for dialogue between China and the world.”
Foreign guests this year include 77 chief executive officers of large multinationals, top representatives from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as well as academics.
Although the CDF has grown considerably in size and influence from 2000, when there were only 21 participants, Lu said the forum will adhere to its philosophy of small-scale, high-level dialogue that bring real results for the Chinese and global economy.