Home » Firewall: expo panellists talk up tech as China’s supply chain shield

Firewall: expo panellists talk up tech as China’s supply chain shield

China is seeking to leverage its technical advancements, especially in strategic industries such as new energy and smart agriculture, to solidify its position in the global supply chain and counter the West’s plans for de-risking, global executives and industry experts said.

Panellists discussed the topic in detail at forums held on Tuesday as part of the inaugural China International Supply Chain Expo in Beijing, a state-backed event affirming the country’s role as a destination for global manufacturers. Efforts to attract foreign investors back to the country – and keep those who remained – have become pronounced in the wake of the pandemic and unpredictable geopolitical shifts.

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Chinese premier says Beijing opposes cutting off supply chains amid calls for decoupling

Chinese premier says Beijing opposes cutting off supply chains amid calls for decoupling

Companies and governments alike are seeking a more resilient and secure supply chain arrangement, participants said, with technological changes being one of the fundamental drivers of supply chain adjustments.

“Europe, the United States, Mexico, other countries, they are all embracing a large number of Chinese suppliers and technologies by establishing factories, hiring local talent, and implementing the Shenzhen model of operation,” said Chris Pereira, CEO of North American Ecosystem Institute, referring to the south China city known for its embrace of entrepreneurship.

As the world’s largest energy producer and consumer – and, consequently, the world’s biggest new energy vehicle market – China also has an opportunity to use its green transition to jump ahead in the global value chain.

In the next five to 10 years, we will witness the emergence of multinational Chinese enterprises

Jean Lu, Standard Chartered

The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, organiser of the expo, listed smart vehicles, green agriculture, clean energy, digital technology and pharmaceuticals as the five major factors reshaping the global supply chain.

It also noted the supply chain has become more localised, diversified, digitised and green, and innovation and technology remain essential.

As it attempts to consolidate its footing in an increasingly interconnected yet fractured landscape, China will no longer be an export-oriented economy but increasingly expand its global presence or invest overseas, said Jean Lu, deputy CEO of Standard Chartered Bank China.

“Four to five decades ago, we saw the globalisation process led by European and American companies, and two to three decades ago Japanese and Korean companies,” she said. “In the next five to 10 years, we will witness the emergence of multinational Chinese enterprises.”

Technology was also highlighted as a critical element of China’s food security drive.

Song Juguo, a deputy director with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said China is ready to work with global partners on advanced equipment and biological breeding, weak links in the country’s campaign for self-sufficiency in grains.

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Liu Huang, general manager of agricultural firm Shenzhen Huada Everything Technology, said China needs to be connected with the global market in oil seeds and feed, but should also strike a balance between reliance on overseas suppliers and its own stocks.

Wu Yun, deputy general manager of China Energy Engineering Corporation, emphasised the need for stability. “We need to focus on supply chain vulnerability caused by highly concentrated production capacity,” he said, “and strive to enhance the resilience of the clean energy supply to geopolitical factors, trade restrictions, natural disasters, technological barriers and oligopolistic monopolies.”