companies

French businesses upbeat on China market

China France Photo:VCG

China France Photo:VCG

 

French businesses have expressed growing confidence in investment in the China market, as a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to France is set to strengthen bilateral ties and economic and trade cooperation. 

French direct investment in China has been skyrocketing in recent months, highlighting the great attractiveness of the China market among French companies amid China’s steady opening-up measures, experts said. 

The state visit will bolster the confidence of both Chinese and French businesses to pursue win-win cooperation, they noted. 

“President Xi’s visit to France reinforces the potential for the two countries to open up a new future of collaboration on the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties,” Paul Hudson, CEO of Sanofi, a French multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare company, told the Global Times. “The two countries have opportunities to strengthen their bilateral relationship while also further collaborating to address global topics.”

Hudson said that the company has seen a great expansion in the China market over the past several decades and will continue to expand in China, amid growing potential and the improving business environment. 

“As one of the first multinational companies to enter China since its reform and opening-up more than 40 years ago, our footprint has grown significantly over the years as a result of openness and collaboration between our two countries,” Hudson said.

“China staying focused on high-level opening-up and actively improving the environment for foreign investment incentivizes pharmaceutical innovation for patients in China and beyond.”

Sanofi is hardly alone in expanding in the China market. In 2023, France was one of the fastest-growing sources of direct investment in China, with direct investment surging 77 percent year-on-year to $1.34 billion, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). 

L’Oreal Chairman Jean-Paul Agon also said that the company remains committed to the China market.

“I can assure you that we are more determined than ever to contribute, together, to the mutual development of our two countries. To this end, I believe it is essential to reiterate the imperative need for an ongoing dialogue between us,” Agon said.

That trend has only intensified this year, with French direct investment in China surging 585.8 percent year-on-year in the first two months of this year, data from the MOFCOM showed.

A survey of French companies in China conducted by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China in 2023 showed that members’ willingness to operate in China over the coming three years had increased, with 47 percent saying they planned to further invest in the Chinese market. 

French companies are interested in cooperation with Chinese companies in a wide range of areas including pharmaceuticals and clean energy. During the fifth meeting of the China-France Business Council in April 2023, 36 Chinese and French businesses signed 18 cooperation agreements in the areas of green energy, innovation, aerospace and new energy.

“In China specifically, we are bolstering local innovation and investment by prioritizing early-stage [research and development], involving China in 90 percent of our global simultaneous projects,” Hudson said. 

The growing commitment of French companies to the China market is mainly due to China’s continuous opening-up measures, efforts to improve the business environment for foreign companies, as well as China’s steady economic recovery and its vast market potential, experts noted. 

Cui Hongjian, a professor at the Academy of Regional and Global Governance at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said that the state visit will send a clear signal to French and European businesses that China remains committed to continuous opening-up in an all-round way. 

“This will further strengthen the confidence of French businesses and investors in the China market,” Cui told the Global Times on Monday, noting that remarkable growth in French direct investment in China in recent months has already showed growing confidence in China.  

China’s IPOs drop in Q1 by 56% y-o-y, as nation steps up regulation to enhance quality of listed firms

stock market Photo:VCG

stock market Photo:VCG

The number of A-share IPOs has fallen significantly so far this year, with none available for subscription this week, and issue prices have become more reasonable, indicating a steady rise in market confidence as regulators move to enhance the quality of listed companies. 

Even though the IPO process may take longer, observers said that strengthened regulation will set a higher benchmark for the Chinese stock market, leading to sustainable development.

In the first quarter, 30 IPOs raised 23.6 billion yuan ($3.26 billion), with the number down 56 percent on a yearly basis and the funds raised reduced by 64 percent, according to a report released by Deloitte China on Monday, nbc.com reported. 

The report estimated that about 115 to 155 IPOs will be held in the A-share market this year, raising anywhere from 139 billion yuan to 166 billion yuan.

The decreased number of IPOs means that new issues are becoming rarer, prompting funds to become more active, Yang Delong, chief economist at the Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund Management Co, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Since the beginning of this year, 31 new companies have been officially listed, with an average closing price of 104.94 percent on the first trading day. Just one new company closed at a discount on its first day, according to media reports.

The reduction in IPOs aims to balance the primary and secondary markets and help the market rebound, Yang said. 

The relatively limited number of IPOs is a temporary situation, as regulators are focusing primarily on stabilizing the market. The situation is beneficial for investors in the secondary market, as having too many IPOs would depress the broader market if demand doesn’t catch up, Xi Junyang, a professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is allocating more money to conduct more inspections and audits of companies seeking IPOs, with a targeted penetration ratio of at least 25 percent, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Monday.

In March, the CSRC issued four policy documents to enhance supervision and management of the capital market and prevent risks, vowing to promote the high-quality development of the stock market. Among the four documents, three were guidelines aimed at boosting supervision of IPOs, listed companies, brokers and public offering funds. The fourth was meant to enhance self-construction of the CSRC system.

Experts highlighted the issuance and landing of the documents as a vital step to enhance the quality of listed companies and further stabilize the capital market, as previously implemented measures have already shown an effect. 

The enhanced supervision of IPOs will elevate the quality of listed companies at the root, and promote the sustainable development of the stock market in the long run, Yang said.

‘Choosing China means choosing opportunities, and investing in China means investing in the future’: MOFCOM

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc, exchanges business cards with participants at the China Development Forum 2024 in Beijing, on March 24, 2024. About 400 people, including experts, entrepreneurs, government officials and representatives of international organizations, attended the opening ceremony of the forum. Photo: VCG

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc, exchanges business cards with participants at the China Development Forum 2024 in Beijing, on March 24, 2024. About 400 people, including experts, entrepreneurs, government officials and representatives of international organizations, attended the opening ceremony of the forum. Photo: VCG

 

“Choosing China means choosing opportunities,” He Yadong, spokesperson of Ministry of Commerce (MOFOCM) said on Thursday, when asked about the recent surge of visits by global CEOs to the country.

The spokesperson said China welcomes multinational companies to actively participate in Chinese market for further development.

The remarks came amid the background as China hosts a series of high-level events this week, attracting a good number of global CEOs. Senior officials of MOFOM also met with top executives from over 20 multinational companies such as Apple, Qualcomm and Mercedes-Benz. These multinational companies are of medicine, automobiles, food, finance, cosmetics, electronic information, chemical industry and energy. 

Multinationals from all walks of life visit China intensively to feel the “spring vigor” of China’s economic recovery, which demonstrates the “strong magnetic attraction” of the Chinese market, the spokesperson said. 

China welcomes multinational companies to actively participate in the construction of a modern industrial system in China for greater inclusive development, He said. 

Executives of multinational companies have expressed their optimism of the Chinese market and vowed to continue to invest in China, He said, citing the example of Apple which will continue to increase its investment in R&D and augment its supply chain in China, and the German chemical company Wacker will continue to invest in China and support the green and low-carbon transformation of traditional industries.

Jean-Pascal Tricoire, the Chairman of Schneider Electric, said in a forum held on Monday that the company will fully leverage their digital advantages and sustainable experience and deepen the integration of digital and real industries, accelerate the dual transformation of digitalization and decarbonization, and work with Chinese partners to foster new quality productive forces.

The company said the supply chain in China has increased its overall efficiency by 8-10 percent year by year, and its overall energy consumption decreased by 13 percent compared to 2019 with the deployment of advanced digital systems and artificial intelligence technology.

Data from MOFCOM showed that in the first two months of 2024, the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises increased by 34.9 percent to 7,160 in China.

China continues to connect the world with a higher level of opening-up. “Choosing China means choosing opportunities, and investing in China means investing in the future,” He noted.

Global Times

China opposes US abuse of national security as chip export restrictions extended

A chip manufacture machine Photo: VCG

A chip manufacture machine Photo: VCG

China has strongly opposed the US’ latest revised rules, which make it harder for China to gain access to US artificial intelligence (AI) chips and chipmaking tools, stating that it will disrupt the international semiconductor market as well as cooperation among enterprises. 

The remarks, made by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Sunday evening, noted that the latest revision of semiconductor export controls came less than six months since the US introduced the rule. 

Chinese experts also slammed the move as another attempt by the US to relentlessly crack down on China in the technology sector, sacrificing the interests of US companies.

The new rules, which run 166 pages, will go into effect on April 4, and they expand the restrictions to laptops containing those AI chips, Reuters reported.

The US further tightened export restrictions on AI-related chips and semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China in October 2023, seeking to halt shipments of more advanced AI chips designed by Nvidia and other companies.

The US is also drawing up a list of Chinese advanced chipmaking factories to be barred from receiving key tools from the US, Reuters reported on Thursday.

In response, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian on Friday urged the US to immediately correct its wrongdoings and stop its illegal unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction against Chinese companies.

The US launched tech blockade and restrictions on China and sanctions and suppression against Chinese companies with an intent to contain China’s development. They gravely harm the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, violate market economy principles, undermine international trade rules, and destabilize the global industrial and supply chains, Lin said.

China will continue to closely follow developments and firmly safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies, Lin said.  

Ma Jihua, a veteran telecom industry observer, told the Global Times on Sunday that currently, the practical application of AI on laptops is primarily focused on gaming, graphics displays and entertainment. However, the use of AI chips on laptops is not yet widespread, and large-scale application may not occur in the short term.

The restriction is just another way for US politicians to demonstrate a tough stance on China, especially during the election period, after they had tried other avenues, Ma said.

In recent years, the US has intensified its efforts to accelerate high-tech export restrictions on China, expanding from high-end chips to include more legacy chips and extending from chips in smartphones to those in computers, Ma noted.

The tightened restriction also comes as US chipmakers ramp up efforts to retain the Chinese market.

When CEOs of some leading US semiconductor companies including AMD, Qualcomm and Micron visited China to attend the China Development Forum (CDF) in Beijing last week, they expressed their commitment to the Chinese market and willingness to pursue cooperation.

During the CDF, HP announced plans to launch and sell AI chip powered personal computers by the end of 2024, and collaborate with local software developers in China to provide them with the applications they need, Chinese media outlet yiicai.com reported.

Micron Technology on Wednesday broke ground at its new plant in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, as part of its $603 million investment plan announced in June 2023.

US chipmaker NVIDIA said on March 18 that it is expanding collaboration with Chinese enterprises to provide an in-vehicle computing platform created for AI applications to Chinese companies, including BYD.

Nvidia was twice forced to design and produce chips specifically for the Chinese market to circumvent US export controls. The previous “downgraded” chips failed to gain traction in China.

With tightened restrictions, American companies could lose valuable business opportunities and suffer from the restrictive policies of the US government. Meanwhile, Chinese companies are moving toward embracing domestic replacements, creating a more self-sufficient ecosystem that could leave American companies behind, Ma said.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Chinese chip manufacturer HiSilicon’s shipment volume reached 6.8 million units, up more than 50 times year-on-year, media reports said, citing data from Canalys.

Tian Yun, a veteran economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that the tightening of US restrictions on exports and technology in the high-tech sector to China is not surprising. Yet its impact and shock to Chinese industry is decreasing, given China’s industrial upgrading in recent years.

China will launch an AI Plus initiative to promote the innovative development of the digital economy, according to the 2024 Government Work Report.

China will step up research and development and the application of big data and AI, launch an AI Plus initiative, and build digital industry clusters with international competitiveness, read the report.

China slams reported US list on chip tool exports control targeting Chinese chipmakers

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian. Photo: China's Foreign Ministry

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian. Photo: China’s Foreign Ministry

China urges the US to immediately correct its wrongdoings and stop its illegal unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction against Chinese companies, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told a routine press conference on Friday, commenting on a reported list being drawn by the US commerce department barring Chinese chip factories from obtaining key tools.

The US is drawing up a list of advanced Chinese chipmaking factories barred from receiving key tools, Reuters reported on Friday citing people familiar with the matter.

“China always firmly opposes US technology crackdown against China, its sanctioning and suppressing of Chinese companies aimed at curbing China’s development,” Lin said, noting that such actions seriously damage the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.

These actions seriously violate the principles of the market economy, gravely undermine international trade norms and seriously affect the stability of the global semiconductor industrial and supply chains, Lin said.

“We will closely monitor the situation and resolutely safeguard the lawful interests of Chinese companies,” Lin said.

The list by the US is aimed at drawing a clearer picture on which Chinese chip factories will not receive chipmaking tools, as a patch to a ban issued by the US commerce department in 2022. Sources say they could be released in the next couple of months, Reuters reported.

The move, which came out after a number of CEOs from top US chip companies visited China and pledged more investment or announced various projects, and a visit by Dutch top trade official with a softened tone over exports control measures over the exports of its lithography systems to China, is closely watched by Chinese analysts.

“The message, as disclosed in the media, showed the Biden administration is under great pressure from within the US and its semiconductor industry to draw the boundary of its so-called ‘small yard’ so that business outside the prohibited areas can proceed,” Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday. “Now it is rather blurred.”

The message also serves election purpose for the Biden team, stating a tough stance on China at the same time pacifying the US semiconductor community, ensuring ballots from all sides, the expert said.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington told the Global Times that “this is out-and-out economic bullying and arbitrarily placing curbs or forcibly seeking decoupling to serve political agenda violates the principles of market economy and fair competition.”

The news came as CEOs of some leading US semiconductor companies including the CEOs of AMD, Qualcomm and Micron visited China this week to attend the China Development Forum (CDF), held from Sunday to Monday in Beijing, expressing their commitment to the Chinese market and willingness to pursue cooperation.

Micron Technology on Wednesday broke ground at its new plant in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, as part of its $603 million investment plan announced in June 2023.

The same voice seeking for cooperation with China can also be heard from some of the US’ allies. 

During a meeting with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in Beijing on Wednesday, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Geoffrey van Leeuwen said “Dutch export controls do not target any country,” in a softened tone over controls on exports of lithography machines by Dutch companies to China.

The Dutch government said on Thursday it would spend $2.7 billion in the Eindhoven region to ensure the Netherlands’ largest company ASML doesn’t move its operations abroad.

ASML warned in January that US export controls would affect its sales in China by 10-15 percent in 2024.

Chinese experts said that the “small yard and high fence” of the US government will not stop China’s innovation-driven development, nor will it do any good to US companies or the entire semiconductor industry.

Open cooperation is the core driving force for the growth of the semiconductor industry and China is one of the major semiconductor markets in the world, they noted.

Over half of Chinese companies in Australia profitable in 2023: CCPIT report

China Australia File photo

China Australia File photo

Chinese companies that have operations in Australia reported steady growth in 2023, with 57.5 percent of firms surveyed saying they made a profit last year. Meanwhile, they called on the Australian government to provide a sound business environment for foreign companies and ensure fair competition, according to a report by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) published on Friday.

China and Australia’s economies are highly complementary, and share great potential. Australia is an important overseas market for Chinese companies, Yang Fan, a spokesperson for the CCPIT, said at a press conference in Beijing on Friday.

A report conducted by the council showed that the operations of Chinese-funded enterprises in Australia showed steady growth in 2023, with 57.5 percent of the companies surveyed saying that they had reported a profit, Yang said. Meanwhile, about 45.4 percent of the surveyed companies said that they plan to expand their business presence in Australia.

Over recent years, Australia has rolled out a series of policies in terms of industrial innovation and digital capability, which contributed to the improvement of Australia’s business environment. In the survey, 37.6 percent of Chinese companies said Australia’s business environment is relatedly good, according to the report.

Chinese companies said that they expect the Australian government to enhance the fairness of rules of standards in areas including market entry of foreign enterprises, anti-monopoly and cyber security, and lower the entry threshold and compliance cost for foreign enterprises, it said.

In addition, they also called on the Australian government to improve access for foreign investment, and use trade remedy tools reasonably to build a sound business environment for foreign enterprises, said the report.

With 2024 marking the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China-New Zealand and China-Australia, the CCPIT plans to organize entrepreneurs to visit the two countries to promote trade and investment activities, Yang said.

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced on Thursday a decision to cancel anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs levied on Australian wine, effective on Friday.

Since taking office in 2022, the Albanese government has remedied its predecessor’s irrational anti-China policies, prompting a positive response from the Chinese side. Hence, bilateral ties have gradually bottomed out and stabilized.

During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s latest visit to Canberra, he said the two sides should build on the sound momentum of bilateral relations, “work together for the future,” and take a more active attitude to jointly build a more mature, stable and fruitful comprehensive strategic partnership.

“Independence should also be an important principle of Australia’s foreign policy. The development of China-Australia relations does not target any third party, nor should it be influenced or disturbed by any third party,” Wang said.

Global Times