* As China recalibrates its COVID-19 approach, local governments are arranging investment fairs and exhibitions to attract foreign investment while boosting confidence in the country's economic rebound.
* Multinational companies attending the latest such event in the southern city of Guangzhou have expressed optimism about China's long-term economic prospects. This is evidenced by the signing of over 800 projects, worth about 358 billion U.S. dollars, at the event.
by Xinhua Writers Yao Yuan, Wu Tao and Hong Zehua
GUANGZHOU, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- More than 800 projects involving investments worth 2.5 trillion yuan (about 358 billion U.S. dollars) have been inked at an investment fair in Guangdong Province, another indicator of global investors' confidence in China's economy -- despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, and others from the Fortune Global 500 list, attended the 2022 Global Investment Promotion Conference for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which concluded on Thursday in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong and a foreign trade hub in south China.
The conference is among the largest investment promotion events held in China since the country lifted many of its COVID-19 restrictions in November and December, fanning hopes of an accelerated rebound in social and economic activities.
Carlsberg Group, a multinational brewer headquartered in Denmark, signed an agreement to build a brewery in the city of Foshan in Guangdong, involving about 3 billion yuan of investment.
"The new plant in Foshan will become one of Carlsberg's most important beer production bases in China," said Lee Chee Kong, president of Carlsberg China. Using intelligent and green manufacturing technologies, the new factory will ensure the company's supply in south China, while also radiating to the surrounding markets, Lee said.
Also at the conference, Siemens Energy AG announced the establishment of a subsidiary in Shenzhen. Christian Bruch, president and CEO of Siemens Energy, said the new subsidiary marks a new stage for the company's continuous cooperation in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).
The energy technology heavyweight has already supplied 18 heavy-duty gas turbines and 41 industrial-type gas turbines to the GBA. These turbines have a total installed capacity of over 10 GW, and have helped provide power to nearly 17 million households, according to Yao Zhenguo, Senior Vice President of Siemens Energy.
"We are optimistic about the long-term prospects of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and of the Chinese economy," Yao said.
Comprising Hong Kong, Macao, and nine cities in Guangdong, the GBA is one of China's most open and dynamic regions and a hot spot for foreign investment. In 2019, China issued a specific plan aiming to develop the area into a world-class city cluster, a global technology and innovation center, and a livable business-friendly area.
The 2022 Global Investment Promotion Conference for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) is held in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Dec. 21, 2022. (Xinhua)
Since China announced the further optimization of its COVID-19 prevention and control measures, local governments have filled their agendas with investment fairs, exhibitions and charter flights sending business delegations to reconnect with their partners abroad.
Earlier this month, the southern manufacturing and tech hub Shenzhen secured a total investment of 879 billion yuan for 315 projects at the 2022 Shenzhen Global Investment Promotion Conference.
The contracts signed at the investment fair in Shenzhen cover the fields of new-generation electronic information, biomedicine and health, as well as the green and low-carbon industries and the marine industry. Global investors include Amazon, Intel and A.P. Moller-Maersk.
This stream of promotional activities also chimed with calls made at the annual Central Economic Work Conference last week. The high-level meeting pledged greater efforts to attract foreign capital, widen market access, promote the opening-up of modern service industries, and grant foreign-funded enterprises national treatment.
"The Greater Bay Area held this grand event right after the adjustment of COVID-19 policies, which underlines the local governments' proactive attitude and firm determination. This has boosted confidence in our corporate sector," Carlsberg China president Lee said.
People attend an investment promotion conference hosted by Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city and high-tech hub, in Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 23, 2022. (Photo by Liu Xiaoming/Xinhua)
Experts say despite the impact of COVID-19 and gloomy sentiment around the globe, China has retained its strong appeal for foreign businesses, because of its huge and ever-growing market, continual opening-up and sophisticated industrial chain.
Official data have shown that foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland, in actual use, had reached 168.34 billion U.S. dollars in the first 10 months of 2022 -- marking a yearly growth of 17.4 percent.
Many multinational companies are setting their sights on the long-term development of China's economy. Despite upheaval and hardship inflicted by COVID-19, these companies say the trend for the country to embrace wealthier consumers and a more inclusive market is unlikely to be reversed.
"China's beer market is transitioning to favor high-end and craft beer, bringing good market prospects," said Lee, citing Carlsberg's double-digit growth in premium beer sales in China in recent years.
"We have strong confidence in China's economic prospects," said Murata Hideaki, board chairman of Yasaki (China) Investment Corporation. The auto parts supplier is eyeing the robust development of China's new energy automobile industry and is ready to make new investments, he said.
Multinational companies and global investors continue to have strong interest and confidence in the Chinese market, as evidenced by the favorable outcome of the Guangzhou investment fair, said Zhou Jianhua, associate professor of economics and management at South China Agricultural University.
Zhou is anticipating a speeding up of China's economic recovery in the coming months, thanks to optimized epidemic control measures.
"Positive changes are around the corner as local governments are taking steps to attract overseas investment. International trade and foreign investment will benefit from China's increasing exchanges with the outside world," said Zhou.
(Video reporters: Bai Yu, Li Sijia, Li Jiale, Wu Tao, Huo Siying; video editors: Yu Jiaming, Luo Hui, Huang Aiping, Liu Xiaorui) ■