Now is the time for worldwide opening-up
In this ever-more globalized era, frank and insightful dialogue is particularly vital to ease friction
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.