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Investing in the new: foreign firms tapping into China's emerging industries

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-10 16:38
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China's low-carbon commitment, particularly the endeavor to achieve its carbon-neutral target, has become a new driving force for the country's inbound and outbound investment. [Photo/IC]

BEIJING - Upbeat about the business opportunities in China's new energy sector, global industrial gas supplier Air Products has been scaling up its stake in the country.

Last year, the company established its Asia hydrogen application technology center in East China's Zhejiang province, where it is also building China's first commercial-scale liquid hydrogen plant. In addition, it is also working to advance the local production of liquid hydrogen storage tanks in Shanghai and local liquid hydrogen industry standards.

"The growth potential of innovative green technologies will be tapped further as China promotes the development of new productive forces," said Saw Choon Seong, president of Air Products China.

As new productive forces underscore scientific and technological innovation and green growth, they are expected to generate new industries, models and growth drivers, analysts say. For foreign investors, these forces mean increased demand and a bigger market.

Air Products' ongoing commitment to China epitomizes how foreign enterprises are digging into opportunities brought by the country's pursuit of these new productive forces.

On the back of government policies, China's strategic emerging industries have seen rapid expansion in recent years, and high-tech industries have also become hot spots for foreign investors.

Last year, the country's high-tech industries drew in foreign direct investment totaling 423.34 billion yuan ($59.6 billion), accounting for a record-high 37.3 percent of the national total, data from the Ministry of Commerce shows.

Cai Wei, chief strategy officer of KPMG Advisory (China), said that China will create multiple opportunities for foreign firms while developing new productive forces.

"In emerging sectors such as new materials and advanced manufacturing, we have seen demand for high-quality industrial gases and advanced application technologies rise in recent years," Saw said.

To better leverage innovation trends, explore market opportunities and meet the demands of consumers, an increasing number of foreign enterprises have established research centers in China.

Take ResMed as an example. The medical device manufacturer has set up a local digital research and development team in China, along with an independent production base and product lines targeting the Chinese market.

Scientific and technological innovation will play a key role in China's future development, said Tony Liu, general manager of ResMed China. He observed that enterprises in China have accelerated digital transformation and industrial chain upgrades, striving to move up the value chain.

With a supersized market, high-quality talent pool, stable social environment, solid infrastructure and improving government services, China boasts a comprehensive competitive edge and holds "strong appeal" to foreign enterprises, Liu said.

Cai noted that China's complete industrial chain and strong industrial supporting capabilities have provided a solid foundation for foreign companies to collaborate with their Chinese peers.

"Foreign enterprises can cooperate with local companies, share resources, and facilitate technological exchanges and industrial upgrades, enhancing their overall competitiveness," he said.

While fostering new productive forces, the country has rolled out a raft of policies and cultivated a more open and friendly environment for foreign investors, Cai noted. "Foreign companies should seize these opportunities, actively participate in the market, and grow together with the Chinese economy," he added.

On international cooperation, he said that China has taken the initiative to integrate into the global innovation network and enhance its technological and industrial innovation capabilities through opening-up and cooperation over the past 10-plus years.

With the development of new productive forces, such cooperation will be strengthened further, especially in the research, development, application and promotion of disruptive and cutting-edge technologies, he said.

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