Commentary: Why decoupling-with-China rhetoric hardly sways entrepreneurs

Updated: June 1, 2020 Source:
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Earlier this month, U.S. multinational conglomerate Honeywell launched its emerging market headquarters and innovation center in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

It came only a few weeks after U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil and its Chinese partners held a special virtual groundbreaking ceremony for a chemical complex in China's southern province of Guangdong.

These stellar projects by U.S. flagship enterprises, happening while the coronavirus pandemic is still raging across the globe, and the clamoring for decoupling with China has once again captured headlines, have given off a clear signal that global investors remain confident in a promising future of China even at this unprecedentedly challenging and uncertain time.

Perhaps the most important source of that continued confidence comes from China's forceful epidemic response and well-managed post-pandemic economic rehabilitation.

Since the outbreak, China has taken some very decisive containment steps, and effectively put the disease under control. This significant progress has allowed Beijing to roll out a raft of measures to bring production back on track, and reopen businesses. As a result, recovery is underway, and China is getting back on its feet steadily.

Figures from China's National Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday that profits from China's major industrial firms in April edged down 4.3 percent, recovering from the 34.9-percent drop registered in March.

China's drive to get back to normal is undoubtedly a shot in the arm to help provide urgently needed medical supplies like masks and protective suits to the world, stabilize global supply chains, and shore up heavily-hit manufacturing industries worldwide and international trade.

China's economic resilience, unique and competitive manufacturing edges, abundant industrial workers and solid fundamentals for long-term economic growth offer investors and entrepreneurs another reason to keep their faith in the Asian country.

China-skeptics in the United States who have vowed to reshore already outsourced manufacturing jobs need a grip on reality: existing global supply chains are a natural, decades-long progression jointly shaped by a variety of factors like operation costs, industrial capabilities, and a sufficient and skilled workforce.

China still remains home to the world's most attractive and populous consumer market. Last year, consumer spending contributed 57.8 percent to China's overall economic growth. With 400 million middle-income earners, greater potential for consumer products and public services awaits to be tapped.

Over the decades, encouraged by the massive and fast-growing Chinese consumer markets, foreign companies have been shifting a model of "made in China" to "made for China."

Moreover, the Chinese government's persistent pledge to create a more friendly business environment, for stronger protection of intellectual property rights and to bolster global free trade and multilateralism has made its domestic markets more attractive. The foreign investment law that took effect at the start of the year is a fine example of China's commitments.

According to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and PwC China in March, over 70 percent of U.S. companies said they had no plans yet to relocate production and supply chain operations or sourcing outside of China.

During a press conference after the annual "two sessions" on Thursday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang highlighted the importance of openness in stabilizing industrial and supply chains, saying that China will further enhance cooperation with the rest of the world and introduce more measures for further opening-up.

Indeed, the sudden outbreak of the coronavirus this year has prompted many political leaders and business titans worldwide to revisit the highly interconnected global supply system and prescribe remedies.

Looking ahead, they ought to understand that although the virus has affected the world economy in a variety of ways, it will not stop or reverse globalization. China, with its strong commitment to opening-up and cooperation, as well as its unique place in this deeply interwoven global economy, will always remain deeply relevant.

Editor: 刘婷