Now is the time for world­wide open­ing-up

In this ever-more glob­al­ized era, frank and in­sight­ful dia­logue is par­tic­u­larly vi­tal to ease fric­tion

China Daily European Weekly - - Comment - By YUAN YAFEI The au­thor is founder and chair­man of the Nan­jing-based pri­vate con­glom­er­ate San­power Group. The views do not nec­es­sar­ily ref­elect those of China Daily.

While the on­go­ing Sino-US trade fric­tion gives cause for con­cern, I am still very much con­fi­dent, as there are no win­ners in trade wars. The fric­tion jeop­ar­dizes the in­ter­ests of busi­nesses and the peo­ples of not just our two great coun­tries, but the world as well.

China-US eco­nomic re­la­tions today are in­ter­pen­e­trated. Our own ex­pe­ri­ences at San­power Group of­fer a glimpse into the de­gree to which these bi­lat­eral in­ter­ests are in­ter­wo­ven. San­power Group is al­ready one of the largest Chi­nese em­ploy­ers in the United States, with 5,000 di­rect em­ploy­ees and an­other 25,000 jobs cre­ated in­di­rectly. At the same time, and as part of a wider, mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial busi­ness ar­range­ment, we’ve also con­tin­ued to in­tro­duce au­then­ti­cally Amer­i­can ideas, de­signs and brands into China, where they are com­bined with lo­cal re­search and de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing and sales.

For ex­am­ple, we prac­ti­cally helped save Brook­stone, a great Amer­i­can brand, from the verge of bankruptcy after ac­quir­ing it in 2014. We also brought its sup­ply chain sys­tems and method­ol­ogy to our more than 3,000 con­sumer elec­tron­ics stores in China, and fa­cil­i­tated the trans­for­ma­tion and up­grade of our own 3C re­tail sec­tor at home.

In 2017, we fully ac­quired renowned Amer­i­can bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany Den­dreon, which is the maker of Provenge, the first and only US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion-ap­proved im­munother­apy for prostate can­cer. We are ac­tively fa­cil­i­tat­ing its in­tro­duc­tion to China, so that prostate can­cer pa­tients there can have ac­cess to the world’s best vac­cine as early as pos­si­ble. At the same time, we also wish to learn from the vac­cine’s ap­proval pro­cesses in the US, whereby Den­dreon as­sisted the FDA in for­mu­lat­ing the first reg­u­la­tory frame­work for cel­lu­lar im­munother­apy any­where – to help fa­cil­i­tate the ar­tic­u­la­tion of those stan­dards in China.

While our in­vest­ments in the US as a China-based pri­vate con­glom­er­ate are tes­ta­ment to our close eco­nomic ties, San­power Group’s foot­steps in China in­di­cate the ex­tent of pri­vate in­dus­try de­vel­op­ment amid the gov­ern­ment’s on­go­ing drive to re­form and open up.

I founded San­power Group in 1993 after leav­ing the civil ser­vice. Today, a quar­ter of a cen­tury later, we are a top 500 com­pany in China, with as­sets ex­ceed­ing $20 bil­lion (17 bil­lion euros; £14 bil­lion) and an­nual sales vol­ume of $23 bil­lion. We are, in ev­ery way, a true ben­e­fi­ciary of China’s re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy, which not only made our phe­nom­e­nal growth pos­si­ble, but also cre­ated the open­ing that al­lowed us to both “go global” and “bring in”, as we have done in the US mar­ket.

The fric­tions of today come at a volatile pe­riod in bi­lat­eral trade re­la­tions. While busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties in both coun­tries have been put to the test, frank and in­sight­ful dia­logue is par­tic­u­larly vi­tal. The tenth an­nual US-China CEO and For­mer Se­nior Of­fi­cials’ Dia­logue, which was held in Bei­jing last week, pro­vided such a plat­form. Both sides at this lat­est dia­logue, in which I was very hon­ored to take part, reaf­firmed the con­sen­sus that open­ing up our markets is con­ducive to bi­lat­eral eco­nomic re­la­tions. And, per­son­ally, I be­lieve in an ever-more glob­al­ized era and that fur­ther open­ing-up mea­sures are nec­es­sary for not just China, but also all coun­tries around the world, the US in­cluded.

As China con­tin­ues to open up and al­low greater ac­cess to for­eign stake­hold­ers, the com­ple­men­tary na­ture of China-US eco­nomic re­la­tions will be­come even more acute, par­tic­u­larly in the area of high-tech. De­spite the vast room for bi­lat­eral col­lab­o­ra­tion, though, the US needs to open up more as well. Rais­ing tar­iffs and threat­en­ing to start a trade war are cer­tainly coun­ter­pro­duc­tive to that.

It is my sin­cere hope, as an en­tre­pre­neur with mas­sive in­vest­ments in both China and the US, that our two great coun­tries can be good friends and stop the dis­pute. That, I be­lieve, is one thing en­trepreneurs on both sides can agree on.

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