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Sony and Beijing show rise of services

By Jing Shuiyu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-05 09:17

In a marble-rich building beside the Fourth Ring Road in eastern Beijing, a group of engineers busily discussed the tech nitty-gritty of a gigantic display screen made of ultra high-definition light-emitting diodes.

Called the 4K x 2K LED screens, they showcase the latest imaging technology of Japan's Sony Corp.

The one to be installed in Beijing would be Sony's first-ever commercially available 4K x 2K LED screen of this kind. It will be used to screen advertisements, videos, entertainment, live television and other content.

Facing the huge screen, Guo Yijun, director of the Sony Video Technology Institute, said China's new round of opening-up has presented fresh opportunities for companies such as Sony. Besides, it is giving cities like Beijing a chance to boast sophisticated imaging technology.

That set me thinking. China's opening-up policy vis-avis the services sector is indeed injecting fresh life into foreign businesses and revving up economic growth.

Last June, the Beijing municipality launched a new pilot program to further ease restrictions on market access in several key areas of the services sector. This will also deepen institutional reform, local officials said at a news conference.

I could have mistaken their statement as a grand long-term vision. But, having interacted with several stakeholders since that news conference, I know better.

The city's opening-up process is real and happening.

Wei Lei, chief of the section for the modern services sector at the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce's Chaoyang office, said, "New policies give the right to foreign companies such as Sony to set up wholly foreign-owned talent agencies specializing in the entertainment industry."

To date, two talent agencies backed by foreign firms have received business licenses from Beijing.

In cultural and educational services, foreign investors are allowed to invest in audio-visual production in designated areas, according to Wei.

Beijing's increased efforts to open up the services sector could be traced back to 2015, when the State Council, China's cabinet, gave the green signal to the city's first three-year pilot plan. Those measures have come to fruition now.

In 2017, about 1,309 foreign-funded enterprises registered and operated in the city, an increase of 22 percent from the previous year, data from the Commerce Commission show.

During the same period, foreign investment in Beijing's services sector climbed 88.4 percent year-on-year to $23.2 billion, accounting for 95.4 percent of the city's total.

To me, the capital's substantial measures to remove restrictions in the services sector reflect the country's determination to shift its economic growth model toward services, consumption and innovation.

Last year, China's services sector output increased 8 percent year-on-year, outperforming the national GDP growth rate of 6.9 percent, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

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