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China to host Davos-style annual meets
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-21 06:02

The annual summits of the World Economic Forum (WEF) have long been synonymous with Davos.

But from next year, the glamorous Swiss ski resort will have to share the spotlight with a Chinese city when the WEF's summer summit series start.

Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and a key member of the Chinese delegation to the 2006 Davos meeting in January, disclosed this to China Daily in an exclusive interview.

According to the agreement signed with Dr Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of WEF, China will host the Global Industry Summit annually but it was not announced which city would be given the honour.

Zhang also said that the government had approved the WEF's plan to set up a representative office in Beijing, the first of its kind globally, by June this year.

The Beijing office will liaise with "emerging global companies," to pave way for the "Summer Davos" and the Chinese Government shares with the WEF the determination "to make the summer summit an annual gathering as famous as its annual Davos summit," Zhang said.

Incorporated in 1971 as a foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, the WEF is an independent organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

The China summits, however, will have targets different from the Davos gathering, Zhang explained.

In addition to politicians, high-profile think-tanks and non-governmental organizations, Davos is a meeting place for the world's top 1,000 multinationals each with no less than US$4 billion in annual sales.

The summer summit in China will be a destination for emerging global companies, or those with annual sales ranging between US$250 million and US$4 billion, and no less than 15 per cent year-on-year growth.

Zhang said the WEF aims to attract up to 1,000 such global companies in five years and help them grow into the world's next-generation business leaders.

The opening of the WEF office in Beijing is significant because "the time is ripe" for both China and the rest of the world.

"China is yearning for a greater global presence as the rest of the world eagerly looks east, to China, to India, and to all of Asia."

The representative office will benefit co-operation between China and the WEF, and between Chinese and international companies, he said.

When signing the agreement, Schwab said WEF had chosen China for its Global Industry Summit because it believed "China is well positioned to serve as a global hub for working with the next generation of corporate champions."

The WEF first engaged with China 26 years ago, and now, he said, the opening of its office in China would underline its commitment to the country and reinforce its effort to work with the companies that would shape the 21st century.

He said he expects the Global Industry Summit to be a "flagship event" and a "primary community-building activity" for the global growth companies. It would help bring along WEF's existing resources to Asia, "to emphasize the needs and aspirations of companies that are operating globally, developing recognized global brands and managing extremely rapid expansion."

The WEF's plan, according to Zhang, is that about one quarter of the global growth company community membership will comprise international companies based in China; another quarter, the rest of Asia; and the remaining distributed around the world.

By facilitating Chinese companies expand their global reach, the WEF programme also coincides with China's national development blueprint, he added.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced last year that the country is to nurture 50 enterprises reach the top 500 in the world by 2015. At the moment, there are only about 20 companies among the world's top 500.

(China Daily 02/21/2006 page1)

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