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Edward Tse
Edward Tse
Edward Tse is founder and CEO of Gao Feng Advisory Company, a strategy consultancy with roots in China assisting clients on global business and management issues. He previously headed Greater China operations for two major international management consulting firms for over 20 years, and is the author of The China Strategy and China’s Disruptors.

Rather than being alarmed and making conclusions about the entire economy, the Dell news needs to be put in context of China’s development. Labour-intensive industries are leaving the country to be replaced by higher value-added sectors, and China’s advantages are hard to replicate elsewhere.

As China’s economy shifts towards high-value growth and home-grown innovation, foreign businesses may be reassessing their presence in the country. Yet foreign firms remain crucial to, and will continue to benefit from, China’s development.

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China remains globally important not only as a base for manufacturing, but increasingly for its strengths in research and innovation. Foreign firms know this, and despite their frustration at China’s zero-Covid policy, many are not seriously considering leaving the country.

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For all the talk of foreign firms leaving China over the Covid-19 pandemic and global uncertainty, examples of wholesale departures are hard to find. China’s advantages in quality, cost, timeliness and security will keep its central role in global supply chains in place for a long time to come.

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John Lee wants to revive an old government think tank to advise public policy, but the limited and short-term research and planning capabilities of the past won’t cut it today. Like the central government, the new administration must set its sights on more far-reaching goals.

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While US policymakers are reeling from a Harvard report on China’s tech superiority, foreign corporations already know that Beijing’s top-down, long-term planning works. US companies like Apple and Tesla see working with China as a win-win – perhaps a similar approach is needed at a national level.

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At a minimum, companies will need to comply with new policies and regulations. At the other end of the scale, even the fundamental nature of some businesses could be redefined.

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The sudden and drastic corrections could be painful for some as the red lines are repositioned and redefined in the push towards ‘common prosperity’. More start-ups and investors will benefit as long as they take into account the new thinking.

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President Xi Jinping has emphasised the importance of ‘learning from history to create a bright future’. This epitomises how China is searching for its own brand of modernity, while keeping the ‘whole-of-nation approach’.

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Biden’s government clearly intends to play a big role in expanding US industry, and learning from China can be a better way to view the great power contest.

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Foreign multinationals are coming to the realisation that China is not simply a market where profit can be made but rather is increasingly a place where new knowledge and competitive advantage for companies can be obtained. Its resilience is a result of its governance model, combining efficient top-down planning by the central government with dynamic, innovative entrepreneurship.

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The Greater Bay Area is a natural place for our young people to venture into, to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by China’s innovation and entrepreneurship.

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With companies such as Ant, ByteDance, Huawei and Nio inspiring clones in the West, China is becoming an innovation epicentre. Rather than keep Chinese companies out, the West should make clear the areas of collaboration or protection.

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The US should work with China to strengthen the global business and data governance system, rather than undermining it with arbitrary and disruptive measures, such as protectionist bans and forced company sales.

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Despite the harsh rhetoric between Washington and Beijing, there are opportunities for bilateral economic cooperation at the local level. Chinese companies can boost bilateral relations by helping communities in the rust belt, for example.

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While some labour-intensive supply chains and those that target the US market may move out of China, sophisticated manufacturing clusters related to electronics and the internet of things are not easy to replicate quickly.

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In the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, China will want to radically improve its public health system and better integrate it into its smart networks, even as society explores new ways of remote working. Businesses can expect many radical new opportunities.

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China is racing ahead with blockchain tech and its own digital currency and, given the vast implications of this, needs to quickly establish international benchmarks and a clearer legislative framework. The US can hinder this or work together with China to establish global governance, manage the disruptions and harness the tech for global growth.

All countries have unique sensitivities, so the NBA and Apple should not be seen as victims who caved in to China. Many companies, including from the US and Japan, thrive once they adapt strategies tailored to China’s point of view

More US companies are staying in China than not, despite the trade war. But there is an increasing need to devise different strategies for China and the US, as China’s market conditions become more sophisticated and unique

China’s governance model, the massive number of internet users and a generation of entrepreneurs are driving progress in AI. While China’s boom has provoked concern in the US, there are many areas where the two countries can collaborate.

While foreign firms have long clamoured for greater access to the Chinese market, they will need to catch up with Chinese innovators to reap the benefits of the more level playing field.

The trade war has made a stronger case for China’s reform and innovation. However, foreign multinationals should also realise they can’t be complacent any more: they should learn to innovate in, and for, the Chinese market.

Multinational companies are realising that they cannot ignore Chinese innovations and must embrace China-specific strategies. As China’s auto industry opens up, for example, new forms of partnerships among foreign, local, state-owned and private companies are being formed.

China is rapidly turning a corner towards becoming an innovation hub in advanced technologies, and the trade war with the United States will ultimately not prevent this.

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The enterprising women who start a business today tend to be motivated by the pull of greater opportunities rather than just trying to find a livelihood. They tend to start younger, are better educated, and are not afraid to fail.

To promote entrepreneurship, free movement of goods and services – and ideas – should be encouraged between Hong Kong and the mainland, along with more youth forums, training, and opportunities for innovators to interact and inspire others.

China may not have transformed into a capitalistic democracy, but its entrepreneurial sector, particularly hi-tech businesses, has many similarities to Silicon Valley

While concerns about unfair Chinese trade practices and Chinese companies’ ties with the government are not totally unfounded, they ignore the real and growing business collaboration in some industries.

Market moves by Chinese firms like Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com show how key players are experimenting with various forms of tech-driven ‘new retail’ in the O2O world, making the industry more dynamic than ever.

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The underlying assumption for social mobility to exist is that there is room above, so that younger workers can indeed move up. But, in a stagnant economy, where there is no room above, the only way to break the social mobility deadlock is to create new industries, and thus new jobs and mobility.

Many people outside China still view the country in a very narrow sense, as a nation with a one-party authoritarian regime where the economy is dominated by large state-owned enterprises.

Multinational corporations are in the spotlight these days. Recently, the Chinese government has accused a number of foreign companies of violating the antitrust law. Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Microsoft, and some Japanese car parts companies have been among those charged.

US Vice-President Joe Biden blasted China recently in a speech about foreign policy, arguing that the country hasn't produced anything innovative. "China - and it's true - is graduating six to eight times as many scientists and engineers as we have.

A cover story earlier this year in The Economist featured the headline "China loses its allure". The key point was that, although in the past 30 years a large number of multinational companies have gone to mainland China to invest, this gold rush is now over, even though opportunities remain.

The Legislative Council is considering a government proposal to establish a science and technology bureau. Taking immediate steps to develop an economy where innovation, education, science and technology play direct and definitive roles in boosting creativity, jobs and long-term sustainable growth is the right way to go.