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Visions of a true believer in China

By Jiang Xueqing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-14 10:48

Visions of a true believer in China

Andrew Au, chief executive officer of Citi China

China's slower GDP growth is still the envy of the world, says CEO of Citi China

Despite many in world business remaining increasingly concerned about the slowdown in the Chinese economy, Andrew Au still insists the "China story" remains very much alive.

The chief executive officer of Citi China says before anyone gets too carried away writing off the world's second-largest economy, they should keep firmly in mind that although China may be growing at a slower pace, the absolute size of its incremental GDP generated every year is still considerably bigger than before.

"Even at more managed growth of between 6 percent and 7 percent, China's GDP number is still the envy of the world," said the country head of the US bank which has offices in every corner of the globe.

"You have to look beyond the economic cycle. Our long-term strategy in China is well thought out. It is, as its name implies, long-term in nature. China is a marathon, not a sprint."

Citi's commitment to China during what has appeared to the outside world as a troubled economic cycle, he said, stems from its long history here, which dates back to 1902 when it first established an office in Shanghai.

A 31-year veteran of Citigroup Inc, Au joined the banking giant in 1984 after it had re-entered the Chinese mainland in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, a year earlier.

It was fully incorporated in China in 2007, and he was named CEO of Citi China the following year.

After seven years at the local helm, he said its long and solid local track record here and its commitment to always putting its clients first means the company has been able to build its business in the country and expand its business.

Citi has strong retail and institutional businesses in China and was the first global bank to launch a sole branded credit card in 2012.

But maybe just as important, it has been able to hold onto its staff and become an integral part of not only the country's business community, but of its local community well beyond banking.

Over the past decade, as an increasing number of Chinese companies have expanded their presence globally, this has played strongly to Citi's strengths of having an international network covering more than 100 countries and territories.

"There is so much talk of emerging global champions among the Fortune 500, and it's important to realize that 92 of those companies as of 2014 are currently from China," Au said. He added that the bank's priority is to ensure these Chinese global champions are using Citi's global network as they expand.

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