Openness and innovation will dominate the agenda of this year’s Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou when top executives of the world’s largest companies gather in the southern Chinese city, underscoring China’s rising role as a strong advocate for globalization and innovation in the international trade arena.
It is the fifth time that Fortune magazine has picked a Chinese city to host its prestigious business forum since the event was created in 1995. It is not only a reflection of the continuous strong interest and attention from international CEOs in the Chinese market but also a manifestation of the country’s growing influence in the global trade and economy.
Discussions at the forum, which last from Dec 6 to 8, will center on the theme “Openness and Innovation: Shaping the Global Economy” and global business leaders will share their views with their Chinese counterparts on topics including the latest trends in the technological revolution, the outlook for the world’s economy, and how multinational companies should position themselves at a time when globalization is being challenged.
The theme of the Guangzhou forum also coincides with the key messages from the report delivered by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in October. The report stressed that openness and innovation are among the keys for China to achieve successful economic transition and sustainable growth.
Participants at the Guangzhou forum are expected to exchange their thoughts on the prospects of the world’s second largest economy, the implications of China’s rising middle class, rapid urbanization and expanding digital technologies, as well as how the country’s Belt and Road Initiative will reshape global trade.
Economists and observers believe that pooling Chinese wisdom and practice on development with international experience will benefit future global development.
“The world is now faced with several critical issues including the lack of an inner driving force for growth and development and a rising anti-globalization sentiment at the moment,” said Xu Hongcai, deputy chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
“China has come up with solutions such as the Belt and Road Initiative that aim to create a more open and inclusive international cooperation platform to fuel a new round of development,” Xu said.
Alan Murray, chief content officer of Time Inc and president of Fortune magazine, said that the Guangzhou forum will be a powerful demonstration of the importance of global commerce and the profound change that technology is bringing to global business at a time when globalization is under attack.
“Guangzhou, China’s southern gateway to the world, is the ideal location for the 2017 Fortune Global Forum. As a center of international trade for many centuries, Guangzhou is both a renowned symbol and a modern manifestation of China’s participation in global commerce,” Murray was quoted by Fortune magazine as saying.
When it comes to innovation, another major theme of the Guangzhou forum, China has been transforming from a copycat into a leader in the areas of e-commerce and financial technology, thanks to the country’s rapid digitalization and explosive online and mobile penetration.
Some of the highlights of the forum will include the participation of Jack Ma, founder of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and Pony Ma, chairman of Tencent Holdings, another major Chinese internet company and the domestic rival of Alibaba.
It will be interesting to see them interact with other global business leaders and share their thoughts on entrepreneurship and what’s next for China and the world. Participants of the Guangzhou forum will also exchange ideas on the most transformative technologies on the horizon, the impact of China emerging as a major innovator and how the technologies will change the course of future development.
China is already a leading market globally for venture capital in technologies including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and 3D printing, with about one third of the world’s “unicorn” companies (startups valued at more than $1 billion) hailing from the country, according to global consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
“The Chinese marketplace itself is demanding a capacity to innovate that did not exist before,” said Jonathan Woetzel, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company.
He said that it is private companies, entrepreneurship, and a regulatory environment that has been fueling innovation in China.