SHANGHAI, June 2 (Xinhua) -- It's been a busy week in China, with some of the best-known international business tycoons embarking on visits and expressing their hopes of expanding business in the world's second largest economy.
One of the most prominent visitors is Tesla's founder Elon Musk, whose first visit on Chinese soil in three years has aroused widespread attention from businesses and individuals alike.
Musk arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, and was met by Foreign Minister Qin Gang and Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao. During the talks, he praised China's vitality and potential, voiced confidence in the Chinese market and expressed his willingness to deepen cooperation.
In Shanghai, Musk visited Tesla's Gigafactory, the first of its kind outside the United States. He congratulated the Chinese team on their amazing work and the "positive energy of getting things done."
"It's been incredibly impressive how you have been able to overcome so many difficulties and so many challenges," he said in a visit to the factory early on Thursday morning, shortly before he left China.
"Throughout the world, the cars we produce here are not just the most efficient production, but also the highest quality," he added.
Tesla's Shanghai plant delivered 710,000 vehicles last year, an increase of 48 percent from 2021.
Shanghai will also be home to the company's new mega factory, which will be dedicated to manufacturing the company's energy-storage product Megapack. The new plant is scheduled to break ground in the third quarter of this year and start production in the second quarter of 2024.
SHARE IN THE POST-PANDEMIC BOOM
Musk and his Tesla are among a large number of international players that are eager to renew business ties with China and get a share of the post-pandemic boom in the world's second largest economy.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th J.P. Morgan Global China Summit attracted participants from 37 countries and regions in Shanghai, representing some of the world's most influential investors and businesses, with a combined market cap of 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars.
Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, said the summit showcased global investors' confidence in the development of China and Shanghai.
At a roundtable with the media on Tuesday ahead of the summit, Laxman Narasimhan, new global CEO of the U.S. coffee giant Starbucks, suggested that the company's goal of opening 9,000 stores on the Chinese mainland by 2025 remains unchanged. Starbucks revealed the expansion plan last year, despite the impact of COVID-19.
Narasimhan highlighted China's huge market potential, saying, "Our ambitions in China are large. It's such a large consumer market."
Accor Chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin said he comes to China four times a year and is always happy to be back. "You really have to know that China will be the largest hospitality market in the world... a market you cannot miss," he said during a visit in April.
As Europe's biggest hotel group, Accor has 600 hotels in China, with another 350 under development.
China's gross domestic product grew 4.5 percent year on year to 28.5 trillion yuan (about 4.14 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first quarter, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics. The growth outpaced last year's 3 percent and the 2.9 percent reported in the fourth quarter of 2022.
With its faster-than-expected economic growth, China continues to exert a powerful pull for foreign investment, defying the so-called "decoupling" from the country and providing boons to the global economy.
For Judy Marks, chairwoman and CEO of Otis Worldwide Corporation, by investing in China, the company is not just investing in products and facilities. "Most importantly, we invest in our future here," she said.
David Zehner, partner and head of Asia Pacific Consumer Products practice at Bain & Company, sees China as the most exciting consumer story in the world, describing it as "a real source of innovation that the rest of the world can learn from."
He was echoed by Bai Ming, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. "China is gradually becoming a source of global innovation," Bai said in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday.
He said this was one of the major reasons why international firms have "cast a vote of confidence on China's economy."
The other reasons he cited include the good prospects of China's huge market, the resilience of its economy and the mature industry chains of a global factory.
The latest data from the Ministry of Commerce shows that foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 2.2 percent year on year to 499.46 billion yuan in the first four months of this year. In U.S. dollar terms, the FDI inflow went down 3.3 percent year on year to 73.5 billion U.S. dollars.