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Creating value in a responsible, sustainable way

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-30 09:57

Editor's Note: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. China Daily interviewed top executives of well-known multinational companies for their views on the country's socioeconomic development.

Siemens partners with Chinese firms to provide more solutions for digital upgrades and bets on boost from B&R

Please use three words to describe China's changes in the past 40 years.

Development, speed and ambition.

What are the biggest achievements in China since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy 40 years ago?

The past 40 years was a remarkable journey for China's transformation in terms of development. China experienced an impressive rise, becoming the world's second largest economy. China has also become a growth engine for the global economy.

China's industry is evolving to a new level. Our Chinese customers have the vision and the ambition to lead in the era of Industry 4.0 by actively acquiring advanced digital enterprise solutions. We are partnering with many major companies in China to help turn their visions of digitalization into reality.

What's the biggest challenge China faces today and how can the country overcome it?

In China today, there are leading-edge companies and technologies, but then there are still a lot of developing areas. You have the whole spectrum here, which is very unique. China has a population of 1.4 billion people and accounts for one-seventh of the global economic output. The transformation undertaking by this country is undoubtedly enormous and the challenge is hard to imagine.

The process of achieving the goal of quality growth, of improving social and corporate efficiency, while at the same time realizing environmental protection and green development, requires lots of efforts. It will take time for changes to have an impact. Patience and consistency will be needed, as well as continuous reforms, openness and collaboration along the way.

How has your company benefited from the country's reform and opening-up policy?

As a global company operating in over 200 countries and regions, creating value for local customers, employees and society in a responsible, respectful and sustainable way is important for us.

Today, we employ over 32,000 people in China, operate 21 research and development centers across China, teamed up with 87 local universities and technology institutes in China to conduct scientific research and develop talent. Thirty-three metro lines in 15 Chinese cities are now using Siemens' advanced signaling systems, more than one fourth of China's mid-and high-end buildings are using Siemens fire alarm systems for greater safety protection, and over 45 percent of China's fossil power plants are using Siemens' highly efficient turbine technologies. Siemens is an integral part of the Chinese economy and society.

Has competition intensified between your company and Chinese companies?

The rise of Chinese companies in the global arena is an impressive reflection of China's economic takeoff. China clearly benefited from opening up and now influences the global value chain. In Siemens' 170-year history, we always stand out from competition. Now, in the era of globalization and digitalization, the world is getting more and more connected. So competition may also mean cooperation. In the past year alone, we have agreed on cooperation with many Chinese companies such as HBIS Group, Baowu Group, Jinyu Biotechnology, Cathay Industrial Biotech and Jomoo, to provide solutions for digital upgrading, and to help them to benefit from digital transformation.

How do you view China's role in the world today?

China's role in the global arena is obviously evolving as the country is playing an irreplaceable role in the discussion of many major global issues such as global economic imbalances, trade conflicts and environmental challenges. I hope that developments like the Belt and Road Initiative will continue to inject new meaning into China's reform and opening-up, and drive a much globalized reform path toward an open, inclusive and balanced economic cooperation architecture that benefits all. It has the potential to be the most important and impactful global infrastructure program of our times.

Siemens welcomes the B&R Initiative-reaching out to the world, connecting people and economies. With our unique profile, global footprint and strong base in China, we want to help to make the B&R Initiative a success for everyone, with sustainable, environmentally friendly, job-creating projects that improve the lives of the people in countries and regions involved in the B&R Initiative and beyond.

Could China's experiences and practices be used to solve global problems?

In recent years, we have seen populism, nationalism and protectionism rising and they inevitably lead to intolerance and isolation. The world must find a new equilibrium to combat poverty and create prosperity for all. China's B&R Initiative, in this sense, may be a robust driving force for global economic growth.

Siemens is proactively supporting the B&R projects together with Chinese partners. By 2017, Siemens had joined forces with over 100 Chinese EPCs in exploring business opportunities in more than 100 markets worldwide in fields including power, oil and gas, chemicals, minerals and building materials. Siemens helps Chinese companies to tackle complex market environments and increase project efficiency.

What measures are needed if China wants to deepen reforms?

We appreciate the efforts and commitment made by the Chinese government to improve business environment, open access of foreign investment, protect IPR, promote fair competition and regularize the market. We hope for a "level playing field" where Chinese and German companies have equal opportunities. This should include, for example, effective and reliable protection of intellectual property rights as well as the adoption of joint international technology standards-especially in future growth fields like Industry 4.0 and Made in China 2025.

We believe companies like Siemens can make indispensable contributions to working together with China to construct a sound market environment that is oriented towards the age of digitalization and greater openness.

What is the most unforgettable experience you have had in China?

In October 1985, Siemens and China's former Ministry of Machinery, Electric and Electronic Industries signed a Memorandum of Comprehensive Cooperation to jointly promote the country's machinery, electric and electronic industries-the first agreement of this kind after the country opened and reformed itself.

After that, Siemens China was established in 1994 and became the first holding company formed by a foreign investor in China. At that time, the Wangjing area, where Siemens is now located, was no more than wild grassland. Even taxi drivers were reluctant to go there. In 1995 alone, Siemens established as many as 13 operating companies here. I was also personally involved in setting up most of the production facilities.

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