China has promised better conditions for foreign investors as it seeks to persuade international companies that the country is open for business despite heightened geopolitical tensions.
Vice-premier Ding Xuexiang said China would expand access to its market, “comprehensively optimise the business environment, implement national treatment for foreign companies, and make greater efforts to attract and utilise foreign capital”.
Mr Ding was speaking at the China Development Forum in Beijing, which also heard from international business figures including Apple chief executive Tim Cook and the bosses of BMW and Siemens.
China’s economy has rebounded strongly since the end of the zero-Covid policy last December but the United States has banned the export of advanced semiconductors as the atmosphere in Washington has become more hostile to Beijing.
Singapore’s senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told the forum that competition between China and the US was on a scale never seen before but that the world’s two biggest economies must co-operate to meet global challenges.
“How the US and China are able to combine competition – including perfectly legitimate, economic competition – with the need for co-operation is going to require considerable strategic ambition and skill. But it will matter to the US; it will matter to China; and very importantly, it will matter to the world,” Mr Shanmugaratnam said.
Beijing on Sunday established diplomatic relations with Honduras, which had been one of just 14 countries in the world that recognised Taiwan as the legitimate government of China. The Honduran foreign ministry said it now recognises the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government representing all of China, adding that Taiwan is an “inseparable part of Chinese territory”.
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Taiwan claimed that Beijing had won the support of Honduras by means of “dollar diplomacy” and that the Honduran government had asked Taipei for billions of dollars in aid to retain recognition.
“Taiwan’s people have proved to the world that we never cower from threats. Taiwan’s co-operation and links with allies and like-minded countries to jointly promote international wellbeing and security will only increase, not decrease,” Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen said.
International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva told the China Development Forum that 2023 would be a challenging year for the world economy and she warned of the consequences of geopolitical rivalry.
“Uncertainties are exceptionally high, including because of risks of geoeconomic fragmentation which could mean a world split into rival economic blocs,” Ms Georgieva said, adding that this outcome would create a dangerous division that would leave everyone poorer and less secure.
She said that China should increase productivity and shift the balance in the economy towards consumption by encouraging people to save less and spend more.
“To get there, the social protection system will need to play a central role through higher health and unemployment insurance benefits to cushion households against shocks,” Ms Georgieva said.
“At the same time, market-oriented reforms to level the playing field between the private sector and state-owned enterprises, together with investments in education, would significantly lift the economy’s productive capacity.”