French reinsurer to boost investment in China

SCOR will “massively” boost investments in the Chinese market to capture the country’s long-term growth prospects, said Thierry Leger, chief executive officer of SCOR SE, a global reinsurer based in Paris, France, adding that he “disagrees strongly” with the arguments that China’s economic development has peaked because there remains potential in terms of consumer spending and digital transformation.

China is expected to become the world’s second-largest market for reinsurance in the coming decade, attracting global reinsurers like SCOR to ramp up investment in the country, said Leger.

Thanks to robust economic growth potential and a still large protection gap, the Chinese market offers incredible growth potential, whose contribution to SCOR’s overall business is expected to surge to at least 10 to 15 percent in the coming 10 to 20 years, Leger said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

“So that shows the importance (of the Chinese market) and the need for us to continue to invest in our people, expertise, tools and data in the Chinese market.”

Liu Zhihua contributed to this story.

Brands from across world flex NEV muscle on stage

BYD’s Fang Cheng Bao showcases the Super 9 concept model at the 2024 Beijing auto show. [LI FUSHENG/CHINA DAILY]

After a four-year hiatus, the Beijing auto show returns with a flurry of new products, particularly new energy vehicles, presented by global automakers, who aim to solidify their position in the world’s most competitive and largest auto market.

Running from Thursday to May 4, the event is hosting the world premieres of 41 concept models and 117 vehicles, with 30 from international brands. A total of 278 NEVs are on display, surpassing the 160 from the last edition in 2020, according to the event organizers.

The proportion of NEVs surpassing gasoline cars appears to be happening faster than anticipated. Data from the China Passenger Car Association show that in the first two weeks of April, passenger NEV sales accounted for more than 50 percent of the market share, with 260,000 units sold out of a total of 516,000 passenger cars.

Premium brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are showcasing their achievements in electrification.

BWM’s electric i4 hatchback and electric MINI Cooper and Aceman crossover SUV are taking center stage. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse, which heralds the next generation of BMW vehicles, is on show for the first time in China.

BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse announced plans to invest an additional 20 billion yuan ($2.76 billion) in the Shenyang production base in Liaoning province on Friday. The investment will support the localization production of BMW’s Neue Klasse models starting in 2026.

Mercedes debuted the all-new electric G-Class 4×4 and the Concept CLA Class four-door coupe. Their stage fleet consists of one world-premiere model, seven China-premiere models and eight models that are ready to hit the market.

Audi CEO Gernot Doellner made his first public appearance in China at this year’s Beijing auto show. The automaker debuted the all-new Audi Q6L e-tron SUV, the first vehicle tailored for the Chinese market based on the PPE premium electric platform.

This car, along with other new models based on the PPE, will be produced at the new factory in Changchun in Jilin province, underscoring China’s strategic position for Audi, he said.

However, their customers are being poached by newcomers. When Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun toured the Nio booth, he said that 30 percent of Xiaomi’s car owners had previously owned vehicles from the German trio. Nio CEO William Li said 70-80 percent of Nio’s car owners were from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

Lei announced that it had received more than 75,000 orders in the four weeks since the launch of its first car, the SU7 electric sedan. It aims to deliver more than 10,000 units in June.

At Huawei’s booth of HIMA, which stands for Harmony Intelligent Mobility Alliance, its Stelato brand, codeveloped with BAIC, debuted at the auto show, joining the Aito and Luxeed brands. The brand’s first model S9 sedan is expected to hit the market in the second half of this year.

The IT giant is also showcasing the Aito M5, M7, M9 SUVs and Luxeed S7 sedan, which are already on sale. According to Huawei data, as of April 22, the HIMA family has sold 105,000 vehicles this year.

Besides codeveloped models, Huawei’s Qiankun, which is called the most sophisticated advanced driving assistance system to date, has garnered attention. Seven Chinese brands including Changan’s Avatr, Dongfeng’s Voyah and BAIC’s Arcfox have installed Huawei’s Qiankun in their cars.

Nio unveiled the all-new ET7, continuing its push into the luxury sedan market to solidify its position as a premium brand. Starting at 428,000 yuan, the ET7 Executive Edition is available for pre-order with deliveries beginning on Tuesday.

The startup is maintaining its focus on advancements in charging and battery swap technologies too.

Xpeng said its software and artificial intelligence training upgrades will enter a “superfast cycle” from May, which will be upgraded with its X9 MPV, G9 and G6 SUVs as well as P7i sedan. The automaker hopes the platform will help it expand to other Asian countries and Europe.

He Xiaopeng, founder and CEO of the automaker now backed by Volkswagen, said the software will be refreshed every two months.

Chinese traditional automakers have launched NEV sub-brands, marking a significant transformation.

At the auto show, FAW’s Hongqi presented three sub-brands, including the Hongqi New Energy. Dongfeng Motor is showcasing models under its multiple brands such as M-Hero, Voyah and Nammi. Meanwhile, Great Wall Motors is presenting models under its brands of Wey, Tank, Poer and Ora with technological achievements in NEVs.

GAC Group is displaying models of its Trumpchi, Aion and Hyper brands. The automaker will integrate Huawei’s Qiankun system into flagship models under the Trumpchi brand, with the first model expected to launch in January 2025.

Musk’s visit to China enhances ties amid US officials’ ‘overcapacity’ hype

Tesla CEO Elon Musk File Photo: Xinhua

Tesla CEO Elon Musk File Photo: Xinhua

Despite the so-called overcapacity hype, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a visit to China on Sunday, showcasing the resolve of the world-leading electric car maker to develop in the Chinese market, its second-largest. 

Chinese experts said the visit has strongly refuted overcapacity claims about China’s new-energy vehicle (NEV) industry, and many foreign investors, including Musk, are eyeing the market prospects and investment returns.

Musk arrived in Beijing on Sunday and met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Li stressed that China’s super large-scale market is always open to foreign enterprises and China will continue to work on expanding market access, strengthening service guarantees and providing a better business environment, allowing companies from all countries to invest in China with peace of mind. 

Musk said the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory is Tesla’s best-performing factory, thanks to the hard work and intelligence of the Chinese team. Tesla is willing to deepen cooperation with China and achieve more win-win results.

We are honored to participate in the rapid development of China’s NEV industry. We will continue to work hard in China, develop together with the industry in areas such as AI, electric vehicles and energy storage, accelerate the implementation of clean energy and autonomous driving technologies, and turn our beautiful vision into reality, according to the official weibo account of Tesla on Sunday night.

The visit by Musk comes amid the ongoing 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, during which global players such as Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz have signaled their entry into the NEV sector on a large scale, highlighting their confidence in the Chinese market. Interestingly, Tesla does not have a booth at the show.

Chinese analysts said that Musk’s visit highlights the importance of the Chinese market to many US companies as they are enhancing ties, unlike politicians in Washington who always hype anti-China rhetoric. 

China’s determination to open wider to foreign companies to pursue high-quality development stands in sharp contrast with the US, which has been using bad faith tactics to smear China’s competitive emerging industries, including EVs, Chinese analysts said.

Musk’s China visit validated once again the company’s commitment to the vast market potential of the Chinese EV sector, and made the “overcapacity” narrative hyped by some Western politicians and media outlets fade, experts said. 

Many people are optimistic about the market prospects of NEVs and returns on investment, and many holders of capital are willing to enter such a field, including Musk, Sang Baichuan, dean of the Institute of International Economy at the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Sunday.

“China does not have overcapacity, which is a false proposition,” Sang added.

Reuters reported that Musk would engage with senior Chinese officials to deliberate on the implementation strategy for full self-driving technology in China, paving the way for the activation of the autonomous driving mode on Tesla cars.

Musk’s trip also came just over a week after he scrapped a planned visit to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, citing “very heavy Tesla obligations,” according to Reuters.

The tremendous opportunities brought by China’s high-level opening-up retain a strong appeal for US businesses, which are looking forward to and appreciating the extensive Chinese market, Huo Jianguo, a vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Global sales of EVs are set to reach 45 million in 2030, according to a forecast by the International Energy Agency in 2023. That is about 4.5 times the sales recorded in 2022, and three times the 2023 figure.

While the US continues to hype “overcapacity” of NEVs in China, China’s door is opening wider and wider, including to US companies, Zhou Mi, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Tesla, for example, built its first Gigafactory outside the US in Shanghai in 2019, which gave a boost to the development of the NEV industry amid competition. 

China is Tesla’s second-largest market only after the US. The Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai, which started production in 2020, is Tesla’s largest production center in the world.

 

Tesla sold some 600,000 EVs in 2023 in China, according to media reports. But in the final quarter, it ceded its position as the top EV seller in China to China’s BYD, as fierce market competition raged. 

Amid the rapid development of the NEV industry in China, the penetration rate of passenger NEVs exceeded 50 percent in the first half of April, as reported by China Central Television on April 22, outperforming traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Musk’s last visit to China was in May 2023, when he met with leaders from several top Chinese officials in charge of foreign policy, industry and foreign trade. He also visited the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory and met with leaders from the Shanghai municipal government, CCTV reported.

Global car producers in launch fever for NEV models at Beijing auto show

 

 

Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT

After a four-year absence of its offline show, China’s largest auto show, or 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which kicked off in Beijing on Thursday, has regained global attention. Global players such as Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are signaling their entry into NEVs on a large scale, highlighting their confidence in the Chinese market. 

Such moves are in contrast with the so-called “overcapacity” cited by some US officials, which primarily pertains to industries such as electric vehicles (EVs). Chinese market observers said that it’s groundless to hype the overcapacity narrative, because the production capacity of NEVs to meet consumers’ upgrading demand remains insufficient. 

A total of 44 models from the Volkswagen Group’s brands are on display at the ongoing show, 11 of which are making their debuts, according to information that Volkswagen Group shared with the Global Times. Among the total, there are 18 NEV models.

The group said it is accelerating the process of electrification. Starting from 2026, at least eight pure electric models specially developed for the Chinese local market will be launched. By 2030, the group will provide at least 30 pure electric models in the Chinese market. 

Such moves are shared by other global players. BMW and MINI, the two brands under the BMW Group, brought their new models on Thursday, including BMW’s BEV model- the new BMW i4 had its world premiere, and MINI’s first all-electric crossover – the all new, all electric MINI Aceman, also made its world debut in Beijing.

Electrification, digitalization and sustainable development are the current major trends in the automobile industry. The BMW Group’s goal is to achieve more than 50 percent of sales from electric vehicles by 2030, said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of BMW AG, in Beijing on Wednesday night. 

Mercedes-Benz brought 21 new models to the show, including the world’s first pure electric G-Class off-road vehicle. Maybach’s first mass-produced pure electric model, the Maybach EQS pure electric sport utility vehicle, hit the Chinese market at the show. 

 

Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT

 

 

China is the world’s second-largest market for G-class off-road vehicles. We will increase our input in the Chinese market and build our electric era with Chinese speed, said Hubertus Troska, member of the board of Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

Automakers from China and abroad are set to unveil 117 new models versus 93 at last year’s show in Shanghai, while a total of 278 NEVs will go on display, seven more than last year, according to the organizers.

The timing of the show comes as China’s NEV market shows fast development. Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed that NEVs accounted for 30 percent of cars sold in China in the first two months of this year.

“Four years ago, when I came here, the NEV models of Chinese brands accounted for a large part of the show, but this time, many foreign companies are actively promoting their NEV products,” a visitor surnamed Li told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The fever of foreign car producers for NEVs in China is in contrast with the so-called overcapacity hype by some Western countries, in which they focus on the growth of Chinese manufacturing in new industries represented by EVs, lithium-ion batteries and solar panels.

There is no such thing as “overcapacity” in China’s NEV sector. As a matter of fact, the production capacity of NEVs to meet consumers’ upgrading demand remains insufficient, Wu Shuocheng, a veteran automobile analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“I do not think that China has excess capacity. It’s better to look at the China’s NEV market from a dynamic and developmental perspective. Through market competition, there will be elimination of outdated production capacity in the sector,” Wu said.

The Ministry of Commerce also slammed so-called overcapacity on Thursday. He Yadong, spokesperson of the ministry, said that the issue of production capacity must be based on the background of economic globalization, and fully consider the reality of the global division of labor and international markets.

From a global perspective, there is no overcapacity, but rather a shortage in the new-energy sector. Currently, the development of green, low-carbon and environmentally friendly new energy is an important global response to climate change, He said. 

Global players all emphasize the importance of the Chinese market, and they bolster their competitive positions through local partnerships and innovation.

Volkswagen Group said that it is focusing on its local development capacities and its partnerships with local tech companies and manufacturers such as Horizon Robotics, Thundersoft and XPENG.

“We are accelerating our electric offensive with additional products for new segments. In this way, we are taking advantage of opportunities in the rapidly growing e-market,” Ralf Brandstätter, board member for the China region and CEO of Volkswagen Group China, told the Global Times.

Photo: Li Hao/GT

Photo: Li Hao/GT

 

Nike runs quickly to outpace industry in China

Nike showcases its latest pipeline of innovations, together with 40 world-class elite athletes, during an event in Paris in April. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

Global sportswear brand Nike is doubling down on the Chinese market by leveraging a responsive and localized creative platform as well as innovations centered on its patented Air technology.

The initiative — to drive growth — aims to bring in freshness, solidify its dominant position in the sportswear industry, and enhance its connections with younger consumers globally.

John Donahoe, president and CEO of Nike Inc, said the sportswear brand will continue to invest steadily in China.

“China is a very important market for Nike. It always has been and always will be. We’re committed to investing in China. We believe in China. We’ll keep doubling down on our proven playbook for success in driving innovative products in China,” he said.

Nike Inc posted a 6 percent year-on-year growth in sales in China to $2.08 billion in the third quarter of fiscal year 2024, the sixth consecutive quarterly increase here for the sportswear company.

This was powered by its Dragon Year collection during the Spring Festival holiday and innovations in running, basketball, women and kids categories.

The company has leveraged its global innovation platform to drive novelty in China.

“You will see us increasingly bringing exciting innovations all over the world based on Air technology,” said Donahoe. “We can hyper-localize them for markets in China and other markets.”

For example, the global launch of Air Max DN shoes is expected to have a China-specific version, featuring local colorways, collaborations, campaigns and engagements with athletes, he said.

Nike has invested more than 2 billion yuan ($276 million) in its technology center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and an automated storage and retrieval system in its China logistics center in recent years.

Nike is also investing in local innovation capabilities, as demonstrated by the establishment of its Nike Sport Research Lab this year.

The lab works with Chinese athletes and consumers to gain insight and develop innovations driven by, and unique to, the Chinese market.

The company is also investing in hyper-localizing its storytelling and brand through Icon Shanghai, which plans to be a creative studio program aimed at translating global messaging into locally resonant content, responding rapidly to the dynamic Chinese market.

Donahoe said it is crucial to stay close to consumers, particularly in China, where consumer preferences evolve quickly.

“We’re doing things to accelerate how quickly we can respond to the consumer. China’s really the market where we’re doing that the most. We’re leaning in, trying new ways to pull forward innovations and get them in the market.”

“We are going to speed up the innovation cycle for each season and each product based on the market feedback,” he said. “We want Nike to be a global brand for Chinese consumers and it’s of China.”

The CEO emphasized the dynamic nature of the Chinese market, describing it as “innovative and progressive, in style and the digital world”.

“We’ll continue to innovate in China, enhancing both online and retail experiences across over 6,000 retail stores,” he said.

“We believe that Chinese consumers are ahead of the rest of the world in many ways. We take learning from China to the rest of the world.”

Donahoe said both the Nike brand and the Jordan brand have several potential opportunities in China.

The company opened its World of Flight, a top-end retail concept of the Jordan brand, in Beijing last month. Nike has run mono-brand stores such as the Nike Rise, Nike Style, and the House of Innovation, its flagship store in Shanghai.

Digitally, the company operates its own applications, as well as stores on e-commerce platform Tmall and short-video sharing platform Douyin.

“What’s interesting is you don’t have a digital or physical consumer. Sometimes you shop online. Sometimes you go into store. We need to be there with both,” Donahoe said. “Nike is a premium brand and we’ll try to drive and deliver a premium experience in China.”

Innovation on Air

Competition in the sportswear sector in China has intensified, with new players capturing significant market share in their respective categories.

Kemo Zhou, consultant researcher at Euromonitor International, said in 2023 the overall sportswear market in China remained under the dominance of leading sportswear groups. However, intensifying competition from fast-growing brands has been a significant impetus for the growth of the overall sportswear category.

Zhou cited outdoor brands such as The North Face, Camel and Salomon emerging as major contenders.

Meanwhile, Lululemon has maintained its remarkable growth trajectory, Zhou added.

“Initially associated with yoga apparel, the brand has witnessed a surge in popularity transcending its core market segment. Consumers increasingly integrate Lululemon’s products into their everyday wear,” he said.

Zhou said the increased consumer interest in equipment-free exercise, particularly running and hiking, has fostered demand for sports footwear brands specializing in specific activities, such as niche running shoe brands Hoka and On.

Chinese Premier urges accelerated construction of resilient capital market, to boost sound development

stock market Photo:VCG

stock market Photo:VCG

Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Monday called for accelerating the construction of a secure, regulated, transparent, open, dynamic and resilient capital market, so as to support the country’s effort to build itself into a financial powerhouse and pursue Chinese modernization. 

Li made the remarks while chairing a study session of the State Council, the cabinet, that focused on further deepening capital market reforms and promoting the stable and sound development of the capital market, underscoring China’s intensifying efforts to boost the stock market.

The efforts, which include a slew of measures aimed at tackling risks, tightening regulations and improving the protection of investors, have helped lift the sentiment of investors and will ensure the stable and sound development of the capital market in the long run, analysts said. 

At the study session on Monday, Li stressed the importance of the capital market in the country’s economic and social development and called for continuously deepening reforms in the securities market. Specifically, Li called for accelerating the improvement of the basic institutional system of the capital market, improving key systems such as listing, trading and delisting, and promoting a virtuous cycle of investment and financing and a dynamic balance of listing and delisting.

Also, efforts will be made to improve the quality of listed companies, improve and strengthen capital market supervision and increase punishment for violations of laws and regulations, and effectively strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of small and medium-sized investors and create an open, fair and just market environment, Li said. 

Promoting the stable and healthy development of the capital market is an important manifestation of economic development and governance capability, Li stressed. 

The study session further underscored increasing efforts to boost China’s capital market. On April 12, the State Council released a sweeping guideline to strengthen regulation, forestall risks and promote the high-quality development of the stock market. Widely known as the State Council Nine-Point Guideline, the document, only the third of its kind, mapped out plans to boost the capital market through 2035. 

Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, said that following the release of the guideline, concrete actions are needed to implement it and the study sessions are likely focused on the progress of the implementation of the guideline. 

“It is crucial to evaluate the implementation process and continue to make necessary adjustments so as to promote the sound development of the capital market,” Cao told the Global Times on Monday. 

Following the release of the guideline, Chinese securities regulators and stock exchanges also issued multiple notices related to regulations in various areas such as listing applications, delisting of unqualified companies and high-frequency trading.

Also on Monday, in an article published in the People’s Daily, the Party committee of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) vowed to take concrete measures to boost the market, so as to support the development of the new quality productive forces, better protect investors, and improve mechanisms to monitor and tackle risks. 

Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, said that China has in recent months drawn a clear direction for the sound development of the country’s stock market, which focuses on tackling existing issues such as speculation and illegal activities. 

“In terms of the development room of the capital market, we actually have a very huge potential,” Cong told the Global Times on Monday, pointing to China’s massive savings and the need to guide more capital to help boost the real economy. 

 

The world is young domestic firms’ oyster

A view of the booth of Huawei at the 2024 Mobile World Congress Barcelona in Spain earlier this year. GAO JING/XINHUA

In 2014, a group of experts in smart manufacturing, each of them boasting around 15 years of work experience, gathered in a three-bedroom apartment in Beijing and decided to start up with Beijing Roborock Technology Co Ltd. What was extraordinary was their clear and simple ambition: to develop the world’s best robotic vacuum cleaner.

Ten years on, their dream has come true. Roborock is a leading player in its sector and, in terms of global sales in 2023, the top-selling brand among smart vacuum cleaners worldwide, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm.

Its products are available in more than 170 countries and regions, with nearly half of its revenue coming from overseas markets.

Quan Gang, president of Roborock, summed up the success story.”From day one, our eyes were set on the global market. From the very beginning, we have sought to meet the demands of global users. Our product design, production and marketing efforts have been tailored to meet their demands from the outset.”

That helped the startup to remain flexible and nimble while preserving its unique technology. Corporate executives and experts said Roborock is the epitome of new-age Chinese enterprises that see the world as their oyster right from day one.

Such companies are quick to recognize that growing globally competitive brands in their respective segments is critical to success these days. They rely on both China’s manufacturing prowess and their own strengths in research and development.

What distinguishes them from the previous generation of globally known Chinese enterprises is their global vision and clarity on goals. While the previous lot went global only when they had grown big enough in the domestic market, the new bunch target the global market from the very beginning, experts said.

Huang Chenhong, president of German software and cloud giant SAP Greater China, who has witnessed the transformation of Chinese companies in their global expansion over the past three decades, said, “Despite challenges such as lackluster global demand and geopolitical uncertainties, Chinese companies have not slowed down their pace of going global.”

Data from China’s Ministry of Commerce prove his point. Chinese enterprises’ outbound direct investment grew 5.7 percent year-on-year last year to exceed 1.04 trillion yuan ($143.7 billion), highlighting their continued expansion overseas.

“I think globalization is now entering a new stage. Globalization today involves more Chinese companies expanding their business overseas,” Huang said. “We can see many enterprises, whether State-owned, private or even small and medium-sized enterprises, have 30 to 50 percent of their business overseas. Some companies are even born to serve overseas markets and have never considered doing business domestically.”

Chinese companies have attained a stage of technological innovation where they are starting to embody the spirit of multinational corporations.

“In the past, when we talked about MNCs, we thought of German or American companies. Today, Chinese companies come to mind naturally,” Huang said, adding that SAP has helped many Chinese companies such as Lenovo, BYD and Mindray navigate the international waters over the past three decades.

US Section 301 investigation targeting China’s maritime, logistics and shipbuilding industries ‘groundless’

China-US Photo: GT

China-US Photo: GT

The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) on Sunday blasted the US Section 301 investigation into China’s maritime, logistics and shipbuilding industries, calling it groundless, and said it will organize industry companies to mount a legal defense to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. 

Observers on Sunday slammed the Section 301 investigation, saying it is illegal and invalid, and China will take countermeasures. They stressed that the US trying to control every segment of the industrial chain is not beneficial to the country itself. 

The Section 301 investigation is illegal, unilateral and invalid as it is not included in the WTO framework, He Weiwen, a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

He noted that WTO members have no right to determine if any other member violates regulations, and only the organization can make the ruling.

China’s maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sectors have actively conducted technological innovation and participated in free market competition based on market development needs, which significantly contributed to the development of global trade as well as the smooth and stable operation of global supply chains, a CCPIT spokesperson said in a statement posted on its official WeChat account. 

Related US research showed that the predicament of the US maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sectors was mainly caused by a lack of market competitiveness, and it had nothing to do with China’s laws, policies and practices. 

The CCPIT and the China Chamber of International Commerce, on behalf of China’s business community, urged the US to respect market rules and the principle of fair competition, immediately stop making the wrong moves, and return to the multilateral trade system based on market rules and principles. 

The spokesperson said that CCPIT will organize industry companies to make a legal defense and attend the US hearings with upstream and downstream companies, so as to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.

The remarks came after the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced on Wednesday that it is initiating an investigation of acts, policies and practices of China’s targeting the maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sectors for dominance after a petition filed with the USTR’s office by five US national labor unions. 

The USTR alleged that China is using “unfair, non-market policies and practices” to dominate those sectors, according to a USTR press release. 

The US Section 301 investigation is contrary to the normal laws of market competition, while negatively affecting global enterprises’ operations, Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Gao said that no country can have competitive advantages in all aspects of the industry chain. He said that the US making efforts to keep all links in the industrial and supply chains firmly in its own hands is not conducive for the country itself or for the global division of industry.

In addition to the CCPIT, Chinese authorities have already urged Washington to correct its wrongdoings while stopping the manipulation of issues related to China in the US presidential election year. 

“According to the WTO ruling, the former US administration was wrong to impose additional steel and aluminum tariffs on certain WTO members and launch a Section 301 investigation and raise tariffs on China.

“Instead of correcting its mistake, the US chose to double down on it by threatening new tariff hikes and announcing a new Section 301 investigation,” Lin Jian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said on Friday, urging the US to be prudent in its words and deeds, and stop manipulating issues related to China in the election year. 

The Biden administration is reportedly pushing for tariffs to “triple” on Chinese steel and aluminum, as Washington is targeting Chinese industries under the guise of the “overcapacity” fallacy.

Regardless of what tags the US uses for its excuses, the so-called Section 301 investigation and other tools are just malicious attempts by the US to suppress China while dismissing WTO rules. 

He Weiwen said that “overcapacity” is also a problem related to US competitiveness, and he stressed the importance for the two sides to conduct dialogue including the “overcapacity” issue, based on evidence.

Advanced manufacturing magnet for foreign firms amid upgrades

Daimler trucks are displayed during the 6th China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. PHOTO/CHINA DAILY

BEIJING — China’s advanced manufacturing is attracting the attention of foreign-invested companies amid an innovation-led upgrade of the nation’s industrial chain.

“We see booming innovations in areas including new energy vehicles, and connected and automated driving trucks in China, and we consider China a place to pursue the development and application of such future-oriented products,” said Holger Scherr, president and CEO of Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive Co Ltd, and head of the Mercedes-Benz business unit.

David Fan, executive vice-president and China president of Japan-based auto parts supplier Marelli, also pointed to the growing innovation capabilities of the Chinese market as one of the important reasons for the country’s market and supply chain having an irreplaceable role for Marelli.

China’s manufacturing sector has remained a land of opportunity for foreign-invested companies over the years for its manufacturing prowess and the most comprehensive industrial chain in the world. In 2023, foreign investment into the sector accounted for 27.9 percent of the total, up 1.6 percentage points from the previous year, official data showed.

This year, the country has put developing new quality productive forces — featuring high-tech, high efficiency and high quality — atop its agenda.

The upgrade of industrial and supply chains is among the three aspects, that the development of new quality productive forces will cover, said Zhang Qingjie, head of digital enablement and head of AI at KPMG China.

Some foreign-invested companies have already noticed the gradual repositioning of China’s industrial chain, and are adopting a preemptive strategy to tap into the shift.

“We plan to promote a model of inverter compressors for heat pumps this year in Europe. The model is developed through a technology platform that we built in China, reflecting the change of the Chinese market’s core competitiveness from a comprehensive supply chain to an innovation-oriented one,” said Xu Yang, president of the China unit at Danfoss, a Denmark-based energy efficiency solutions company.

Xu said the company has been actively leveraging China’s innovation capability and improving its smart manufacturing. In April, Danfoss will launch construction of the second phase of its Haiyan campus in Zhejiang province, which is its largest manufacturing base in China, according to Xu.

GT Voice: China remains vital for German firms despite rising competition

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

Some Western media outlets are keen to hype the competition faced by Volkswagen in the China market, but this is not the whole story. The German carmaker remains by far a giant in China’s car market. This offers a new perspective on competition from Chinese automotive brands, and companies in the broader manufacturing sectors.

It should be noted that pressure is unavoidable in any country. Given the intense competition for limited market space, business activities are constantly accompanied by arduous efforts. Citing Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume’s interview with German newspaper FAZ, Reuters reported on Friday that Volkswagen wants to avoid setting “utopian” goals for its market share in China. So, anything above 10 percent was “very respectable” given the intense competition.

The tone reflects the anxiety of the West over the increasing competition in the manufacturing sector. However, more importantly, it is hoped people can see from Blume’s words the rational attitude and unremitting efforts of Volkswagen in maintaining its market share in China, which reflects the importance of the fast-growing China market for the German carmaker.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, BYD leapfrogged Volkswagen as China’s bestselling car brand for the first time in the first quarter of 2023. Previously, Volkswagen had been reportedly the bestselling brand among automakers in China since at least 2008, when data from the China Automotive Technology and Research Center became available. Although Volkswagen faces fierce competition from local brands in China, it would not change the fact that Volkswagen still enjoys high brand awareness among Chinese consumers, while China is also an important market for the German carmaker.

In the late 1970s, China’s auto manufacturing industry was weak, but auto consumption had begun to increase. Against this backdrop, China constantly opened up its market and encouraged multinational enterprises, including Volkswagen, to invest in the country. In the following decades, Volkswagen’s sales in China grew rapidly.

When the global financial crisis of 2007-09 hit, followed by the European sovereign debt crisis of 2010-12, the consumption of automobiles in the US and Europe was negatively affected. 

The China market provides tremendous opportunities for Volkswagen and holds an important position in Volkswagen’s global strategy, laying the solid foundation for its performance in the global market. According to Reuters, Volkswagen said in February that group deliveries rose 13.3 percent in January to 698,200 vehicles, with China the leading growth region.

In recent years, China’s manufacturing industry, especially electric vehicle manufacturing, has developed rapidly, but China’s commitment to high-level opening-up has remained unchanged. Foreign investment is welcome and the door to China will only open further. 

However, in the US and Europe, trade protectionism is on the rise. Some Westerners are trying hard to contain China’s manufacturing rise and smear China’s economy. They amplify the competition faced by Western companies in China while deliberately overlooking the opportunities offered by the Chinese economy. 

According to Western media reports, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will visit China in mid-April. It’s not at all surprising that some Western media outlets have tried to hype the competition faced by Volkswagen ahead of Scholz’s reported visit. However, a closer look at Volkswagen’s performance in the China market shows that the opportunities outweigh competition. Despite fierce competition, China is still a key market for Volkswagen.

The German government in July 2023 presented a strategy for relations with China that pointed to a need to reduce the risks of economic dependency. This proves that there are more than a few political elites in Germany who are trying to push for “de-risking” from China.

However, this is not the whole picture of public opinion. According to media reports, Germany’s top corporate brass will join Scholz when he visits China later this month, showing that German companies attach great importance to economic and trade cooperation with China. It is hoped Scholz’s reported visit can elevate China-Germany economic relations to new heights and enhance mutual understanding.