Meet­ing ex­pec­ta­tions for a bet­ter life

China Daily European Weekly - - News Digest - Ed­i­tor's Note: The Com­mu­nist Party of China con­cluded its 19th Na­tional Congress in Oc­to­ber, and the coun­try held the an­nual Cen­tral Eco­nomic Work Con­fer­ence re­cently. China Daily asked busi­ness lead­ers from ma­jor multi­na­tional com­pa­nies for their views o

Eco­lab pre­dicts more joint ef­forts from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, in­dus­try and the public to solve cru­cial chal­lenges

Doug Baker is CEO of Eco­lab Inc, a United States-based global leader in wa­ter, hy­giene and en­ergy tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices.

What has been China’s big­gest achieve­ment dur­ing the past five years and the most no­table change?

China has put in place sound en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies, which will serve the coun­try well and ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of its con­sumer econ­omy.

he gov­ern­ment has a clear plan and is pro­vid­ing con­sis­tent lead­er­ship, and the peo­ple have en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm for the fu­ture. The en­trepreneurial spirit of the Chi­nese peo­ple is a ma­jor fac­tor in the coun­try’s achieve­ments.

I con­tinue to be im­pressed with the wide range of star­tups that are lever­ag­ing the power of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to ad­vance the econ­omy.

The gov­ern­ment has made sev­eral smart moves. The open-door pol­icy has cre­ated a more pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for for­eign in­vestors, while the gov­ern­ment’s plan to fund ed­u­ca­tion has cul­ti­vated tal­ent.

The coun­try’s in­no­va­tion strat­egy has also boosted nu­mer­ous tech­nol­ogy star­tups. The fo­cus on rais­ing food safety stan­dards, and a com­mit­ment to en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship, are both start­ing to pro­duce tan­gi­ble re­sults. What three words would you use to de­scribe China to­day?

Com­mit­ted. Con­fi­dent. In­no­va­tive. China is show­ing a com­mit­ment to sus­tain­able growth and is con­fi­dent be­cause its achieve­ments have strength­ened the coun­try’s be­lief in a bright fu­ture. China is also be­com­ing in­no­va­tive af­ter em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy and is leap­ing over le­gacy sys­tems to drive new ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

What are your im­pres­sions about ma­jor eco­nomic and in­dus­trial poli­cies re­leased dur­ing the 19th CPC Na­tional Congress?

It set the tone for China’s eco­nomic di­rec­tion for the com­ing years, so it is very im­por­tant. We were en­cour­aged to see that China in­tends to be­come more open, with greater mar­ket ac­cess, es­pe­cially in the ser­vice sec­tor.

It also pledged to pro­tect the le­git­i­mate rights and in­ter­ests of for­eign in­vestors. But there were two things that par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested me.

First of all, China will speed up re­forms for protecting and restor­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. From our per­spec­tive, by bet­ter man­ag­ing re­sources, such as in­dus­trial wa­ter, busi­nesses can re­duce their en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and im­prove health and safety.

They can also en­hance op­er­a­tions and pro­duc­tion ef­fi­cien­cies, max­i­mize as­set pro­tec­tion and re­li­a­bil­ity, and also re­duce costs. Eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal in­ter­ests are mu­tu­ally re­in­forc­ing.

Sec­ond, China will sup­port a mar­ket-ori­ented sys­tem for tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion in which en­ter­prises are the main play­ers. We be­lieve Eco­lab can play an im­por­tant role in driv­ing in­no­va­tion in China.

We have al­most 30 years of lead­er­ship in uti­liz­ing re­mote mon­i­tor­ing, di­ag­nos­tics and con­trols. And we have our third-largest re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­ter, lo­cated in Shang­hai, with ap­prox­i­mately 100 sci­en­tists ded­i­cated to new tech­nol­ogy.

One ex­am­ple of in­no­va­tion, which fo­cuses on the Chi­nese mar­ket, is our work on UHT milk clean­ing. We de­vel­oped a spe­cial pro­gram uti­liz­ing Eco­lab’s “sur­face en­ergy-en­hanced cleanin-place tech­nol­ogy” and adapted the al­ka­line for ul­tra­high-tem­per­a­ture sur­face treat­ment.

This helps cus­tomers save time clean­ing and re­duces wa­ter and en­ergy con­sump­tion, which sup­ports sus­tain­abil­ity goals.

What is the big­gest chal­lenge China faces, and how can the coun­try over­come it?

The big­gest chal­lenge for China is un­even de­vel­op­ment and the peo­ple’s ever-grow­ing ex­pec­ta­tions for a bet­ter life. The ag­ing pop­u­la­tion is one im­por­tant trend fac­ing the coun­try and the rest of the world.

This de­mo­graphic change will in­crease gov­ern­ment pen­sion and health­care spend­ing, as well as drive growth in the con­sump­tion of ser­vices and prod­ucts for the el­derly.

An­other chal­lenge is wa­ter scarcity. By 2030, there will be a huge wa­ter de­mand-and-sup­ply gap of 199 bil­lion cu­bic me­ters in China. Im­prov­ing in­dus­try wa­ter ef­fi­ciency is an im­por­tant part of the so­lu­tion.

We have seen, and will see more, joint ef­forts from gov­ern­ment, academia, in­dus­try and the public in China to solve these chal­lenges. The gov­ern­ment has launched dif­fer­ent poli­cies to re­bal­ance wa­ter re­source con­sump­tion.

Eco­lab has the ex­per­tise to help cus­tomers across nearly every in­dus­trial seg­ment to con­sume less wa­ter and bet­ter man­age its use. We have sev­eral pi­lot projects for im­proved in­dus­trial wa­ter treat­ment in China.

We have also been work­ing closely with the gov­ern­ment to share our knowl­edge.

What will China be like in five years, and what is the coun­try’s long-term fu­ture?

I be­lieve China will con­tinue to play an im­por­tant role on the in­ter­na­tional stage. With strong en­force­ment of its en­vi­ron­men­tal poli­cies, air qual­ity will im­prove.

I also be­lieve that China’s food safety stan­dards will con­tinue to rise to meet in­creased con­sumer ex­pec­ta­tions.

China is al­ready con­sid­ered one of the three mega-mar­kets for Eco­lab for its strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance. We are ex­cited about the op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead. What is your im­pres­sion of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping?

I think Pres­i­dent Xi is a strong and ded­i­cated leader. Dur­ing the past few years, the world has wit­nessed many pos­i­tive changes in China un­der his lead­er­ship.

The econ­omy keeps grow­ing faster than in­ter­na­tional ex­pec­ta­tions, a cul­ture of in­no­va­tion has been fos­tered, anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paigns have been car­ried out and there is a grow­ing com­mit­ment to pro­tect and pre­serve the en­vi­ron­ment. How do you view China’s role in the world to­day?

There is sig­nif­i­cant growth in China’s in­ter­na­tional in­flu­ence. The coun­try is trans­form­ing from a re­gional power to an im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional player. What is the most un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence you have had in China?

On my last visit, I was im­pressed with the fast-grow­ing home meal de­liv­ery mar­ket. What has been built in such a short time is re­mark­able. For us, it is a great op­por­tu­nity to think about how we can help scale and ad­vance this grow­ing seg­ment of the food ser­vice in­dus­try.

I am also en­cour­aged by the gov­ern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to ad­vance en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. By is­su­ing higher emis­sion stan­dards and re­duc­ing pol­lu­tion from in­dus­trial man­u­fac­tur­ing, China is work­ing to bal­ance en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion with sus­tained eco­nomic growth. Which sec­tors of­fer the most op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ment?

Our mis­sion in the world and in China is to sup­port cleaner wa­ter, safer food, abun­dant en­ergy re­sources and healthy en­vi­ron­ments. We help our cus­tomers pro­vide these ben­e­fits to so­ci­ety, while protecting and pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

In China, we see a num­ber of trends that are rel­e­vant to Eco­lab’s ex­per­tise.

With a ris­ing mid­dle class, con­sumers are spend­ing more on food and ex­pect im­proved qual­ity. So san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene in food man­u­fac­tur­ing and food re­tail are big op­por­tu­ni­ties for us.

To sup­port the boom­ing on­line food de­liv­ery in­dus­try, we are part­ner­ing with Meituan Dian­ping to de­velop tech­nolo­gies that can bet­ter solve new food safety chal­lenges.

China is also pay­ing more at­ten­tion to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and is en­forc­ing reg­u­la­tions and stan­dards. We have the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to help cus­tomers from dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries com­ply with reg­u­la­tions and op­er­ate ef­fi­ciently.

An­other area con­cerns China’s ag­ing pop­u­la­tion. This will gen­er­ate more health­care-re­lated needs in the com­ing years. We see health­care as a growth op­por­tu­nity for Eco­lab, and we are strength­en­ing our abil­ity to sup­port high stan­dards of clean­li­ness in health­care en­vi­ron­ments.

Fi­nally, China’s dig­i­tal­iza­tion trans­for­ma­tion and IoT (in­ter­net of things) de­vel­op­ment are ac­cel­er­at­ing. We be­lieve that dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion in­flu­ences not only our daily lives, but also how busi­ness gets done, par­tic­u­larly in the Chi­nese mar­ket.

As a dig­i­tal leader, Eco­lab will lever­age tech­nol­ogy to en­hance cus­tomer value cre­ation and pro­vide a su­pe­rior cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence to grow our busi­ness in China.

What are the most in­no­va­tive trends or prod­ucts in China?

The big­gest in­no­va­tion trend is ev­ery­one is go­ing dig­i­tal. At Eco­lab, we are work­ing with our cus­tomers to in­stall mon­i­tors and sen­sors that col­lect data 24/7 and trans­fer that in­for­ma­tion through the cloud for anal­y­sis.

This will gen­er­ate com­pre­hen­sive re­ports with rec­om­men­da­tions. Cus­tomer ser­vice is greatly en­hanced through dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies. It also im­proves the work ex­pe­ri­ence for our as­so­ciates. The im­pact of dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion is per­va­sive and over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive.

China is known as a global man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant, but what will the na­tion’s “call­ing card” be in the fu­ture?

I would say dig­i­tal­iza­tion. China has an ac­tive dig­i­tal in­vest­ment and startup ecosys­tem. With the de­vel­op­ment of this tech­nol­ogy and pol­icy in­cen­tives, Chi­nese en­ter­prises are grad­u­ally be­com­ing lead­ers in their fields.

To­day, China is among the top three in the world for ven­ture-cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in key types of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy. One in three of the world’s uni­corns (star­tups worth more than $1 bil­lion) are Chi­nese. Many of them are ex­pand­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally.

I be­lieve China has the po­ten­tial to be at the fore­front of the world’s dig­i­tal fron­tier in the com­ing decades.

What op­por­tu­ni­ties will the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­vide for China and the rest of the world?

It will open up new op­por­tu­ni­ties in var­i­ous fields, in­clud­ing trade, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, tourism and in­vest­ment. As China wel­comes other par­tic­i­pants to these projects, the re­sult­ing co­op­er­a­tion will sup­port sta­bil­ity.

At Eco­lab, we see great op­por­tu­ni­ties for our com­pany through this ini­tia­tive. Ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects cre­ate de­mand for our ca­pa­bil­i­ties in wa­ter, hy­giene and en­ergy tech­nolo­gies, as well as ser­vices that pro­tect peo­ple and vi­tal re­sources.

BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

Vis­i­tors walk past the Eco­lab Inc booth at an ex­hi­bi­tion in the US city of Chicago.

Doug Baker, CEO of Eco­lab Inc.

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