Beijing still a magnet for foreign capital

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Beijing will continue to be an attractive investment destination for foreign investors, as the city is at the forefront of technological innovation, has a sound business environment, and makes greater efforts in driving reform and opening-up, said executives at multinational companies, investors and government officials at the ongoing Zhongguancun Forum on Friday.

They made the remarks at the 2023 Invest Beijing Global Summit — a major event of the Zhongguancun Forum — where domestic and foreign companies signed a cumulative 60.8 billion yuan ($8.61 billion) worth of investment deals, covering 39 projects in the city from top tech sectors including biotech, intelligent connected vehicles, green energy as well as energy conservation and environmental protection.

"I am confident that Beijing, with its clear commitment to continuing with China's reform and opening-up policy and constantly improving business environment, will remain an attractive choice for foreign investors," said Ola Kallenius, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group, in a video message.

Stating that he has lived in the city for years and has experienced firsthand its amazing and positive development, he said: "I am a Beijinger."

"We are, in particular, happy to see that Beijing is making great efforts to position itself into a front-runner in this country in the area of automotive industry, including autonomous driving," Kallenius said.

"Our joint venture in Beijing has become the largest production site of Mercedes-Benz in the world, and our investment over the years has not only covered the expansion of production but also enhancement in local research and development and along the whole automotive value chain," he added.

Carl-Alexander Scheef, vice-president of Bayer Healthcare Co Ltd China, said: "Beijing's efforts in driving reform and opening-up and favorable policies have attracted Bayer to become one of the first multinationals to settle down in the city."

Local government officials have visited the German company's factory in Beijing several times to better understand its development needs and the healthcare firm has also received speedy Customs clearances, he said, enabling Bayer to have full confidence in its future development in the city.

The Chinese capital has become a major hub for technological innovation in the country. According to a white paper by the Beijing Bureau of Economy and Information Technology, the city topped nationwide in the number of artificial intelligence companies, the number of published papers about AI, AI computing power and industrial agglomeration ability in core areas.

Of the world's top 100 institutions in terms of the number of AI-related patents granted, 30 are headquartered in Beijing, according to the white paper.

"Foreign companies are warmly welcome to actively participate in investing in Beijing for more exchanges and cooperation, as Beijing is one of the first pilot cities to develop international consumption and an innovative business environment," said Sheng Qiuping, vice-minister of commerce.

Zhou Kui, partner of investment firm Sequoia China, said among the Beijing-based companies that it has invested in, 50 have completed initial public offerings and 43 have become unicorns, referring to privately held firms with a valuation of $1 billion or more.

"Beijing has long attached great importance to the development ecology of the venture capital industry, offering sufficient talents for cutting-edge innovation, and providing rich application scenarios for technology implementation," Zhou said.

"We firmly believe that more original achievements and leading companies with global influence will be formed in the future in Beijing," he added.

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