The 18th China Development Forum, held from March 18 to March 20 in Beijing, will cover international dialogues concerning crucial issues such as economic reform, struggling globalization and China-United States relations.
“The world is entering a phase of profound global uncertainty due to declining globalization and rising protectionism,” said Zhang Laiming, deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council. “We need to face those challenges through communication and collaboration.”
Organized by the China Development Research Foundation, the annual forum aims to engage with the world to achieve common prosperity. It is the first State-level meeting to be held after the two sessions, with the theme “China and the World: Economic Transformation through Structural Reforms”.
This year’s event concentrates on key domestic issues such as supply-side structural economic reform, intelligent manufacturing, the environment and increasing capital outflows. It will also cover international topics such as China-US relations, the future of globalization and the Belt and Road Initiative.
Lu Mai, secretary-general of the China Development Research Foundation, said that people are keeping a close eye on which direction China-US relations will go, against the backdrop of a Trump-led US, as well as recent political developments in Europe.
Commenting on economic issues, Lu said: “To our surprise, last year we witnessed more capital outflow than foreign direct investment. It is an inevitable phase of China’s growing economy that companies start to seek more opportunities abroad.”
Lu said he expects more investment abroad during the Belt and Road Initiative efforts, for example.
The forum has attracted more foreign attendees this year due to the significance of China in the global economy and its structural economic reforms.
“It’s not just a challenge for China, as foreign companies are also facing structural reform,” said Lu.
“Many foreign companies that used to manufacture products such as refrigerators have had to sell their factories and set up research centers instead in order to survive China’s economic reform.”
According to Lu, in 2016 China attracted $126 billion in FDI, the third-highest figure globally after the US and Europe. The figure rose 4 percent year-on-year despite global averages being on a declining trend.
This year, more pharmaceuticals companies are attending the forum, attracted by the potential market opportunities of China’s large population. The expanding services industry has also revealed a profitable future for foreign investors in high-tech industries.
“We can detect some clues from this year’s guest list and people from high-tech giants such as Tim Cook are coming,” said Lu.
He also made optimistic comments about Guangzhou’s prospects for the upcoming year: “China’s economic reform requires the government to catch up and I think Guangzhou has been doing a great job.”