Overseas Chinese merchants see growing opportunities in Xiamen
China provides opportunities for overseas businesses because of the continuing positive effects of the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, senior executives and officials said at the Investment Summit for Overseas Chinese Merchants 2018 on Friday in the city of Xiamen.
Overseas Chinese - people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside China - are increasingly basing business operations in Xiamen because it is one of the most systematic and integrated metropolises, with focused measures and outstanding results achieved from China's reform policies, said Chen Qiuxiong, deputy Party secretary of Xiamen.
Xiamen is a dynamic southeastern commercial coastal city in Fujian province, located besides the Taiwan Straits.
"We are adhering to the mission of building a pathfinder, deepening cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation, and taking into account the task of building the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone," Chen said.
Currently, Xiamen plays host to over 300 overseas Chinese enterprises, with a total investment of $40 billion, according to Chen.
With the theme of "Overseas Chinese Merchants and China's 40 Years of Reform and Opening-up, a Unique Resource in Fulfilling the Chinese Dream", the summit focused on China's role in deepening its reform and opening-up, the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the experiences of overseas Chinese merchants.
The summit was co-organized by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Fujian provincial government and the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Xiamen government.
It attracted about 400 merchants from 26 countries and regions from home and abroad.
Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, said China had built up a huge pool of talent among overseas Chinese over the past 40 years.
"The overseas Chinese play an important role in the process of reform and opening up," Wang said.
He added that they brought capital and investment, responding to commercial trends with innovation. In the past, China's economy was relatively closed and backward, said Chan Shing Sau, chairman of Daching Holdings Ltd in Hong Kong.
Chan said his company had responded to the opportunities in the area, by expanding its aluminum foil business in Xiamen.
China is a vast market, Chan said. "Investing in China is to invest in future," he added.
Another overseas businessman, Xu Rongmao, chairman of Shimao Group, returned to the Chinese mainland in 1984 from Hong Kong.
"I knew there would be many difficulties, but we felt that it is a huge market for us to develop in," Xu said, especially with the improvements in the wake of the reform and opening-up policies. Xu said that the market has been changing a great deal.
"We have to adjust to the development of industry and maintain innovation to keep our advantage in the face of market competition," he added.
Overseas Chinese merchants have invested in China in different phases, said professor Zhuang Guotu, head of Xiamen University's Center of Southeast Asian Studies.
A massive new phase has come with the Belt and Road Initiative, Zhuang said. "It is a new opportunity for overseas Chinese merchants to cooperate with China, to grasp the chance."