China to speed up ‘new productive forces’, vice president says

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 5:29 AM

By Joe Cash and Sarah Wu

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will accelerate the development of “new productive forces” and bolster stability and security for the global economy, Vice President Han Zheng told an investment forum in Beijing, as the world’s no.2 economy seeks to reassure anxious foreign firms.

The term “new productive forces” was coined by President Xi Jinping last September, underscoring the need for economic development based on innovation in advanced sectors.

“Further establishing a market-orientated, law-based and international business environment will be key to the continuous optimisation of China’s business environment and improving its attractiveness to foreign firms,” Han told an audience at the inaugural Invest China Summit, that included the CEOs of Aramco, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

China will “provide safe, stable, high-quality and efficient supply chain support to the operation of the global economy,” Han added.

Foreign businesses have been trying to reconcile Chinese leaders’ public overtures towards overseas investment with the rolling out of a broader anti-espionage law, raids on consultancies and due diligence firms, and exit bans.

Foreign investment flows into China shrank nearly 20% in the first two months of the year, data released on Friday showed, and officials have been stepping up efforts to attract investors at a time when many companies have been looking to “de-risk” supply chains and operations away from China.

The Invest China Summit followed the China Development Forum from March 24-25. It coincides with the first day of the Bo’ao Forum in Hainan, which is sometimes touted as Asia’s answer to the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, resulting in a busy week of commercial diplomacy for foreign CEOs.

The chief executives of petrochemicals giant Aramco, pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and AstraZeneca, biotechnology company Novonesis, and elevator and escalator manufacturer Otis, voiced support for the China market at the same event.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that “by the end of 2025, (Pfizer) plans to submit 17 new drug or indication applications in China,” while AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot said his firm “expects about 100 medications and indications in China in the next five years.”

(Reporting by Joe Cash and Sarah Wu; Writing by Liz Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)