By Zhang Zhouxiang and Zheng Yangpeng
BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Overseas investment is among the three main opportunities for China's economic growth in the coming decade, a leading economist said on Saturday.
Gu Shengzu made the comment at the Silk Road: 2014 China Overseas Investment New Year Forum at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Saturday. The forum was attended by more than 100 senior economists, investment experts, ambassadors and embassy representatives in addition to hundreds of domestic and foreign entrepreneurs.
In his opening speech Opportunities and Challenges for China's Investment, Gu, who is also vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Financial and Economic Committee, pointed out that China faces three major opportunities — urbanization, the service sector and overseas investment.
He pointed out overseas investment is of particular importance to economic globalization.
"China will export not only mass-produced goods but also capital," he said in the speech.
"In the future, we will not only have 'made in China' but also 'owned by China' and 'created by China'."
China Overseas Investment Institute's chief consultant Guo Xia agreed.
"Overseas investment is no longer the issue of any single enterprise but is the strategic design for the whole nation," he said.
"That's a topic intimately connected with China's global economic influence."
That requires China to have a global perspective, Guo added.
China's overseas investments are expected to drive the global economy, especially after the US sub-prime mortgage and European debt crises. He estimated these investments total trillions of dollars.
The embassy of Spain in Beijing's economic and commercial counselor Jose Luis Kaiser told China Daily that China's investments have assisted his country's economic recovery.
The Mexican embassy's head of economic affairs Jose Albertto Limas Gutierrez welcomed international, and especially Chinese, investment in his country in an address to the forum's North Pacific branch.
But Chinese investors must bear in mind the hidden risks in overseas businesses, Gu said.
"Currently the success rate of China's transnational mergers is around 40 percent, which is higher than the global average of 25 percent," he said.
But Chinese enterprises still have much to learn in terms of adapting to foreign cultures.
Gu's mention of the word "culture" resonated with Beijing Nyuwa Jewellery Culture Development Co, Ltd board chairman Hu Xiaocong.
Her experience dealing in jade with foreigners has made her believe that overseas investment is essential to promoting China's cultural influence internationally.
Wen Zhuoming, vice-president of ZTE Corporation, one of the world's largest multinational telecommunications companies, said understanding different cultures remains a key challenge to overseas investment.
"If you don't deeply understand the culture in your investment destination, or can't adapt to local legal, financial and political environments, it's so easy to make faulty market analyses, strategy plans and personnel assignments," Wen said.
ZTE has accumulated so much experience in the more than 10 years it has invested abroad — it now operates in more than 140 countries and regions — that it last year compiled a book elaborating legal and accounting systems in its major investment destinations.
Wen also said employee internationalization is crucial.
"It's a painful process that requires restructuring our work procedures and stipulations," he said.
"For example, all our documents should have English versions and conferences must be held in English. But this is inevitable if you want to truly go global. So the earlier you start, the better."
Huang Qingfeng, vice-president of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co, Ltd, one of the world's largest manufacturers of cranes and large steel structures, said his company's real internationalization was driven by poor performance after the global financial crisis.
The yuan is currently far from being an international currency, Guo said. But he told China Daily he hoped overseas investment will accelerate the process.
(Source: China Daily)