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China to Host New WEF Summit
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China will host the Global Industry Summit, scheduled to debut in 2007, a newly developed annual World Economic Forum (WEF) summit for emerging global companies, according to Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and a key member of the Chinese delegation to the 2006 WEF Summit in January.


According to the agreement signed with Dr Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, China will host the annual Global Industry Summit but details such as where it will be hosted are not yet available.


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


The China summits, however, will target a different group of participants from the Davos meetings, 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 percent 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 and the rest of the world is eagerly looking east to China, to India, and to all of Asia," Zhang added.


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


Schwab said the WEF chose 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 established relations with China 26 years ago.


He said he expects the Global Industry Summit to be a "flagship event" and a "primary community-building activity" for emerging companies.


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 helping Chinese companies to expand their global reach, the WEF program also coincides with China's national development blueprint, Zhang added.


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


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


(China Daily February 21, 2006)


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