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2015-04-09 | Beijing

European Chamber urges Beijing city to live up to its commercial potential

The European Chamber in China published today its first ever standalone Beijing Position Paper 2015/2016, closely following the release of the first ever Shanghai Position Paper in January. However, contrary to the bustling commercial centre that epitomises Shanghai, Beijing has yet to be recognised as a major commercial hub worthy of its name and size. Numerous issues—stemming from both national and local levels—are holding Beijing back from fulfilling its potential to be such a hub.

The Chinese government’s plan for the city known as The Beijing Master Plan 2004-2020 aims high, expressing a clear desire for Beijing to attain global city status, full of international corporate headquarters and high-value-added industries. Yet in 2015 the city continues to be identified mainly with big and overly bureaucratic government.

“Beijing has become synonymous for big Government. This image needs to change,” European Chamber Vice President Mats Harborn stated.

In February 2014, the Chinese Government outlined the city’s four core functions — government administration, culture, international exchange and technology, science and innovation. Business was unfortunately not mentioned.

The Beijing Position Paper views this as a setback and urges Beijing to develop a fifth core function — business. The Chamber’s paper identifies several key areas in need of the government’s attention if the city is to attain the status its administrators originally planned. Among these are the strict implementation of visa and hukou regulations that make hiring local and foreign talent difficult, near crippling pollution that is driving expatriate families to abandon the city, unfavourable business policies as well as the issue of creating the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei mega-region.

European Chamber Vice President Mats Harborn stated, “Beijing still clearly lags behind China’s established commercial centres, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou. A continent-sized country like China must have several centres of business, and Beijing should certainly be in the top tier of these. More business-friendly regulations need to be forthcoming, ending financially irresponsible support for state-owned enterprises and creating more opportunities for small and medium-size enterprises would be one.”  

European Chamber Vice President Harborn continued, "The National Government’s drive to integrate Beijing with the city of Tianjin and Hebei province needs careful management and oversight or could worsen pollution and strain already scarce resources such as water and arable land. The good news is that many of the issues Beijing faces can be solved by turning problems into opportunities utilising the help of all stakeholders including foreign business."


About the European Business in China – Beijing Position Paper 2015/2016

The European Chamber started incorporating local focus papers into our main lobbying publication, the European Business in China Position Paper, in 2010. The European Business in China –Beijing Position Paper 2015/2016 is the second in a series of standalone local Position Papers that the European Chamber will be releasing over the course of the first half of 2015 in Nanjing, Shenyang, South China, Southwest China and Tianjin. 

For more information please contact

Shihui Tang

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