Openness and Innovation will dominate the agenda of this year’s Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou when top executives of the world’s largest companies gather in the southern city of China, underlining China’s rising role as a strong advocate for globalization and innovation in the international trade stage.
It is the fifth time that Fortune magazine picks a Chinese city to host its prestigious business Forum since the event was created in 1995. It is not only a reflection of the continuous strong interest and attentions from international CEOs in the Chinese market but also a manifestation of China’s growing influence in the global trade and economy.
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Discussions at the Forum, which lasted from Dec 6th to 8th, focused on the theme “Openness and Innovation: Shaping the Global Economy”. Global business leaders shared their views with their Chinese counterparts on topics including the latest trends in the technological revolution, the outlook for the world’s economy, and how multinational companies should position themselves at a time when globalization is being challenged.
The theme of the Guangzhou Forum also coincided with the key messages from the report delivered by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in October. The report stressed that Openness and Innovation were among the keys for China to achieve successful economic transition and sustainable development.
Participants at the Guangzhou Forum were expected to exchange their thoughts on the prospects of the world’s second largest economy, the implications of China’s rising middle class, rapid urbanization and expanding digital technologies, as well as how China’s Belt and Road Initiative will reshape global trade.
Economists and observers believed that pooling Chinese wisdom and practices on development with international experience would benefit future global development.
“The world is now faced with several critical issues including the lack of an inner driving force for growth and development and a rising anti-globalization sentiment at the moment,” said Xu Hongcai, the deputy chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
“China has come up with solutions such as the Belt and Road Initiative that aims to create a more open and inclusive international cooperation platform to fuel a new round of development,” said Xu.
Alan Murray, the chief content officer of Time Inc and president of Fortune magazine, said that the Guangzhou Forum was a powerful demonstration of the importance of global commerce and the profound change that technology was bringing to global business at a time when globalization was under attack.
“Guangzhou, China’s southern gateway to the world, is the ideal location for the 2017 Fortune Global Forum. As a center of international trade for many centuries, Guangzhou is both a renowned symbol and a modern manifestation of China’s participation in global commerce,” Murray was quoted by Fortune magazine as saying.
When it came to Innovation, China has been transforming from a copycat into a leader in the areas of e-commerce and financial technology, thanks to the its rapid digitalization and explosive online & mobile penetration.
Some of the highlights of the Forum included the participation of Jack Ma, the founder of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, and Pony Ma, the chairman of Tencent Holdings, another major Chinese internet company and the domestic rival of Alibaba.
It was interesting to see them interact with other global business leaders and share their thoughts on entrepreneurship and what was next for China and the world. Participants of the Guangzhou Forum will also exchange ideas on the most transformative technologies on the horizon, the impact of China emerging as a major innovator and how the technologies will change the course of future development.
China is already a leading market globally for venture capital in technologies including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and 3D printing, with about one third of the world’s “Unicorn” companies (start-ups valued at over US$1 billion) hailing from the country, according to the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
“The Chinese marketplace itself is demanding a capacity to innovate that did not exist before,” said Jonathan Woetzel, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company.
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