Upcoming events aimed at reinforcing China’s pledge to globalization will take place this autumn, providing a sharp contrasting backdrop to the protectionism agenda of U.S. President, Donald Trump. First up, Summer Davos in the eastern Chinese port city of Tianjin, followed by the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai (Nov. 5–10). Coincidentally, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will debut his New Economy Forum in Singapore (Nov. 6–8).
These events will attract global media attention given the importance of China as a market and trading partner, so here’s a low-down of what to expect:
- Innovation is being trumpeted yet again at Summer Davos 2018. In the past, the Chinese Premier has used the opening speech to set the tone and highlight China’s globalization commitment and agenda. Let’s see if there’s a repeat performance at this year’s event themed “Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
- The Bloomberg New Economic Forum is a newcomer to the autumn event calendar — an event touted as an Asian Davos — has been abruptly moved from Beijing to Singapore due to the escalated trade tensions between China and U.S. It is also probable that Chinese officials did not want the Forum to distract from the focus on the first China International Expo, the CIIE.
- Announced in May 2017 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the CIIE is designed to give firm support to trade liberation and economic globalization, while actively opening the Chinese market to the world. It aims to facilitate countries and regions to strengthen economic cooperation and trade, and to promote global trade and world economic growth in order to make the world economy more open and inclusive.
- It’s estimated that 150,000 domestic and foreign professional purchasers will participate in the Expo where supply-demand matchmaking sessions, seminars and product releases will be held.
- What sets the CIIE apart from the other forums is that business deals will be struck. It is China’s way of ‘walking the walk, while talking the talk.’ President Xi is expected to personally open the Expo and deliver a keynote speech reflecting the globalization commitment he pledged at Davos 2017
Quick Reference Guide
1. “Trade war” will be a sensitive topic in all of these events. Our advice for companies is to have a set of key messages surrounding the “3Cs”: Commitment, Cooperation and Contribution (either to China or to globalization).
2. The “Belt and Road Initiative”, China’s infrastructure-driven foreign policy, will also be part of the discussion. As the topic is becoming quite sensitive internationally, multinationals are advised to either express support or remain neutral.
3. While many multinationals want to contribute to “Made in China 2025”, an official industrial upgrading strategy, this topic will likely be downplayed by the Chinese government due to its sensitivity and possible retaliation by the Trump administration.
As a general rule of thumb, companies are encouraged to check-in with their China offices and colleagues to obtain feedback and local perspective. Coordinated media and outreach efforts are recommended given the extreme competition for media attention during these events. An integrated earned-owned-paid strategy is highly suggested.
By Lydia Lee, Chief Strategist at Weber Shandwick China.