The Center for China & Globalization (CCG) held its 2015 Roundtable Forum in Beijing on July 12th. The theme for this year’s Roundtable was “Global Community of Common Destiny and New Paths for Chinese Enterprises Development.”Earlier this year, President Xi Jinping addressed the Boao Forum calling on Asian countries to work together to create a community of common destiny, and the July 12th Roundtable marked the first such high level event to discuss the implications of Xi’s Boao remarks for Chinese business enterprises.  

Due to deepening global economic integration and the rapid growth of Internet communications, countries around the world are becoming more closely linked together politically, economically and socially, forming a community of common destiny. Recognizing the importance of these trends, China has put forth a series of initiatives, such as “One Belt, One Road,” to strengthen regional cooperation.  Shortly after these moves, President Xi officially proposed, for the first time, the conception of “a community of common destiny” as a new future for Asia at the recent Boao Forum. Heeding this call, CCG dedicated its 2015 annual roundtable forum to the discussion of China’s role in globalization and the development of Chinese enterprises in an interdependent world. 

The forum attracted over 80 participants, including former political leaders, top scholars and experts, as well as senior business executives, who shared insightful views and opinions with the audience regarding Chinese business enterprise innovation, global entrepreneurship, regional integration in Asia, internationalization of Chinese currency, among other issues.  

Opening Session

The opening session was moderated by CCG President and State Councilor Wang Huiyao. The five speakers were former MOFCOM Vice Minister and the Chairman of CCG’s Strategic Advisory Board Long Yongtu, Vice-Minister Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council He Yafei, Hanglung Group Chairman Ronnie Chen, former Chinese Ambassador to France Wu Jianmin, and Professor and Director of East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore Zheng Yongnian.

During his presentation, Long pointed out that the “community of common destiny” is essentially an updated version of the win-win strategy proposed in the past and will help guide China’s participation in economic globalization. He argued that the international trade mechanism has been weakened, creating a major setback for globalization. However, Long argued that booming bilateral and regional trade agreements will continue to build an open and inclusive international trade environment and help economic globalization to continue to move together. 

He Yafei noted that globalization is also entering into the new normal, in which countries become more economically interdependent and the cross-border movement of production activities is accelerating. But at the same time, he added that factors countering and weakening globalization are gaining strength, throwing up new challenges and risks. In this increasingly complex environment, China needs to proactively participate in the reform and improvement of the global management system to cope with the new situation.

Ronnie Chen, argued that the rise of China’s economic and political power should lead to its emergence as a major force in other areas,particularly in cultural innovation, philanthropy, and think tank development, which will enable it to take a more important role in globalization.

Even though globalization has suffered some major setbacks, it remains, in the view of Wu Jianmin, an unstoppable force.  He added at the Roundtable that the global expansion of Chinese companies is one of the ongoing forces moving it forward. However, while exploring the global market, China should also further open up its own economy to foreign companies and objectively evaluate and tackle external threats and challenges.  

Zheng Yongnian urged China to avoid succumbing to nationalism while reforming its political system.  China can capitalize on globalization, butdoing so requires constructive domestic political system reforms to eventually make this a reality.  

Five sub-sessions

With the theme “From Home-grown to Global Company: New paths for the Innovative Development of Chinese Enterprises,” the first sub-session provided a platform for lively exchange and discussion of the best practices for Chinese companies seeking to expand globally.  

Learning from his business operation experience in the United States, Cao Dewang, chairman of Fuyao Glass, noted that it is essential to understand and respect the culture of the host country and develop cooperative relations with local labor unions. Yu Weiping, Vice President of China CNR Corporation, identified five factors that are crucial to the success of Chinese companies abroad:  high standards, cultural sensitivity, strong CSR, good branding, and environment protection. The two companies headed by Cao and Yu are well-known for their successful expansion overseas. Fuyao Glass began investing in the United States in 1995 and now has branches on five continents. China CNR Corporation won the bidding for the Boston metro vehicle procurement project in 2014 with a total value of RMB 3.5 billion.    

Since the 2015 Working Report issued by the State Council identified entrepreneurship as a key engine for Chinese economic development, the discussion focus of the luncheon session shifted to global entrepreneurship.  Hosted by Ronnie Chen, the event invited several well-known Chinese entrepreneurs, including Mo Tianquan, the executive chairman of Soufun, China's largest real estate listing and search website, Xu Xiaoping, founder of the Zhen Fund and Guo Sheng, Chief Executive Officer of Zhaopin. These individuals shared their experiences in business startup and talent cultivation.  

Given the growing attention devoted to topics such as “One Belt, One Road” initiatives, the establishment of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and internationalization of China’s currency, the forum set the theme for the second sub-session as “From Asian Common Values to Asian Common Community”. Moderated by CCG Executive Secretary General Mabel Miao Lu, it featured top scholars and experts such as Professor Zheng Yongnian, Director of East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore; Professor JinCanrong, Vice President of the School of International Relations at Renmin University; Professor Zha Daojiong from the School of International Relations at Beijing University, and QiuZhenhai, current affairs commentator from Phoenix TV. They agreed that Asian values do not exclude Western values and both sides should stand on a higher ground to examine and resolve their differences. They also believed that it is more appropriate to understand Asian values from a cultural, as opposed to ideological, perspective.

China has committed USD 40 billion to the Silk Road Fund to be used in “One Road, One Belt” investment projects. One of the remaining challenges associated with this move is to see whether China leveragessuch investment activity into accelerating Renminbi internationalization. Against such a backdrop, the third sub-session, hosted by CCG Vice President Frances Sun, was focused on addressing the issue of “Renminbi internationalization and One Belt One Road.” The discussion was led by Chief Executive Officer of China Everbright Chen Shuang, Global Chairman of multinational law firm King & Wood Mallesons Wang Junfen, Managing Director of BOC International Holdings, Cheng Yan, Chief Research Fellow of China Financial Futures Exchange Institute Zhao Qingming, and Deputy Director of CCG’s “One Belt One Road Institute” Chu Yin. They agreed that the progress made in the “One Belt, One Road” scheme and China’s strategy in Africa will be a key force pushing Renminbi towards becoming an internationalized currency. Despite lagging behind other firms in China with respect to globalization, Chinese banks and financial institutions can be expected to play a leading role in this process.    

The last session, “Prospects of China’s Development in New Era of Globalization: Innovation and Future,” invited scholars and business leaders from various countries and backgrounds to give their prescriptions on how China can steer itself towards a better future with more innovation and leadership. The speakers were Harvard University professor Qiu Chengtong, Baidu President Zhang Yaqin, Hanglung Group Chairman Ronnie Chen, and National University of Singapore Professor Zheng Yongnian. Professor Qiu noted that China should build a free and open environment to foster thought innovation and leadership. Highlighting the achievement Chinese companies already made in brand influence and market competition, Zhang Yaqin encouraged them to be confident and proactive in innovation.

Making Think Tanks a Driving Force in Globalization

When commenting on the role of think tanks in globalization, Long Yongtu said that China has realized the need to make its voice heard in international arena and ideas included in global management system.  Meeting these objectives, in turn, requires the creation of a number of home-grown and internationally influential think tanks to develop solutions applying Chinese insights and knowledge to domestic and global issues.  Long proposed several more globalization issues for think tank study, such as the relations between global management system and regional economic cooperation and how to handle interstate relations in both arenas to create a more favorable trade and investment environment. 

In concluding the day-event, Wang Huiyao noted that the roundtable forum was the first domestic event focusing on the discussion of “globalization and community o common interest.” It served as a platform for all the parties involved to exchange their thoughts and ideas and make policy recommendations. The participants provided valuable references and guidance on how to further expand China’s business abroad and move forward with building a global community of common destiny. More discussion about those issues will follow.