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Delivering sustainable development

By Zhong Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-14 09:41
A man stands at Emerson's new Measurement Technology Center in Beijing, which opened last November to serve its automation solutions business in China and across Asia.[Photo/China News Service]

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.

Emerson remains committed to contributing tech and engineering solutions to the growth of China's energy industry

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

Growth, entrepreneurial and forward-looking.

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

The 40 years of reform and opening-up have made China more modern, more internationalized and more developed, and shown the world that China can guide its own destiny. China is now the world's second-largest economy and its image as one of the world's great economic powers is now established and deeply rooted. The country is also more outward-looking and confident in taking its place on the world stage.

The policies of reform and opening-up have profoundly changed life in China and for the Chinese people, improving the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people.

China is now undergoing a transition from high-speed development to high-quality development, from a traditional low-cost labor manufacturing country to a more innovation-based, talent-oriented, service-focused nation. This rapid modernization from undeveloped nation to economic superpower has made Chinese consumers a powerful force in the world economy.

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

Now that China has entered a phase of slower growth, one of the main challenges will be to maintain its successful transition to a consumer-oriented, service economy. We can see that the deployment of important strategies, including the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), are helping China continue to develop and thrive during this period. The Belt and Road Initiative, the government's development strategy to increase regional trade and encourage broader global economic cooperation, is creating enormous business opportunities throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. China is also making significant advances in the fields of science and technology innovation, infrastructure, education, finance, and the environment.

In response to China's environmental and development challenges, Emerson is working with industry and government agencies to promote the efficient use of energy, including improved energy efficiency standards, developing technologies and solutions to boost cleaner energy production, and providing intelligent industrial monitoring technologies. These technologies and initiatives will help the Chinese government deliver sustainable economic development.

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

In the late 1970s, Emerson was one of six global companies invited to help China develop equipment for its oil fields in the west of the country. However, Emerson was the only company that was willing to enter a licensing deal to supply technology to the Chinese market through partnering with local Chinese firms. We are proud to have been able to grow together with China as it began introducing and then delivering its reform and opening-up. Going forward, we are committed to continuing to develop the latest technologies with our Chinese partners.

Emerson has been in China for more than 40 years and today China is Emerson's largest market outside of the United States. Emerson now has about 10,000 employees in China and maintains 20 manufacturing and 15 engineering facilities. Our technology solutions are touching thousands of customers and impacting Chinese citizens every day.

Has competition intensified between your company and Chinese companies?

After 40 years of reform and opening-up, Chinese enterprises have undergone transformations in terms of size, structure, and management as they compete locally and globally. We have seen Chinese enterprises continuously enhance their competitiveness, becoming more and more dynamic in innovation and development.

Last year, we completed a strategic portfolio realignment program, which enables us to focus on our two core businesses-automation solutions, and commercial and residential solutions-to build on our strengths and leadership, and thus strengthen business growth and profitability.

We support fair and open trade in China. Maintaining an open and competitive environment drives us to carry out continuous research and development and innovation, and achieve upstream and downstream developments together with our customers.

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

Over the past 40 years, China has transformed from an undeveloped nation to a regional power and then to an increasingly globalized economic powerhouse. Through its market-based reforms and the opening-up policy, China's national strength and international influence have increased dramatically. China's sustained economic growth has translated into increasing visibility on the world stage and President Xi Jinping is advocating for a new type of international relations.

China's development over this period has not only made it a powerful engine of world economic growth, but also contributed to the recovery of the world economy after the global financial crisis that struck in 2008. Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China actively promotes the linking of development strategies of all nations across the region and beyond, and it is helping to boost local employment and economic development while deepening trade ties with the developing world.

What measures are needed if China wants to deepen reforms?

We hope to see China support fair and open trade with its global trading partners. To develop an open economy and encourage innovation, it is also important to enforce intellectual property rights and ensure cybersecurity so that innovation within the ecosystem is protected. For multinational companies such as Emerson, intellectual property rights protection is a key factor in our consideration of investment destinations.

At Emerson, we are also interested in China's reform and development activities in key areas such as conservation of energy, reduction of carbon emissions, improvement of air quality, sustainable food waste management, and promotion of energy efficiency and safety in manufacturing.

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

The government's 13th Five-Year Plan lays down the strategy and pathway for China's development for 2016-20. The commitment to economic development, urbanization and social welfare, environmental protection and talent development are important initiatives for the future of the country and the world.

Importantly and impressively, China has set its own ambitious development goals, including the elimination of extreme poverty by 2020. We believe China is an integral part of addressing the world's pressing challenges.

The government is clearly taking issues such as environmental pollution seriously. Combating smog and carbon emissions is now one of its top priorities and the government is taking concerted actions to seriously address it with ambitious plans for environmental protection. China's new green policies are extensive and their effects can or will be felt across the world.

For our business, we feel that if an enterprise can win in China, it can compete and win in the world market. For Emerson, China is one of our most important markets and many of our key products are designed and made in China and exported to Asia-Pacific markets and beyond.

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

In the 1990s, I made my first trip to Shanghai and arrived at Hongqiao airport. I remember seeing the crowds, the rickshaws and farm animals outside the airport. Today, with its new terminal, the airport accommodates travelers and aircraft from all over the world. In the past 25 years, I have witnessed the speed of the nation's transformation, which is truly remarkable and fascinating.

Apart from economic development, what progress in other fields have you witnessed in China in the past 40 years?

One example that has been extremely impressive is China's massive and rapid development of its transportation infrastructure. The speed at which bridges, dams, roads and railways can be built here is like nowhere else on earth. For instance, the length of China's highways and high-speed rail mileage are ranked No 1 in the world and the national high-speed railway, which did not exist 10 years ago, is now more extensive than the European Union's. Everybody says China's transportation is indeed the speed of China!

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