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2021-09-23 | All chapters

European Chamber Position Paper Highlights Costs of Self-reliance

Beijing, 23rd September 2021 – The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China today released its European Business in China Position Paper 2021/2022 (Position Paper), its most important publication and the cornerstone of its annual advocacy plan. Compiled by its 35 working groups and sub-working groups over a six-month period, the 930 constructive recommendations contained in the Position Paper illustrate both the depth of the challenges faced by European companies in China and their commitment to improving the business environment.

Despite the many difficulties experienced in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions, European businesses in China did well overall, and remain firmly committed to the market. However, while business opportunities still remain, signs that China is turning inward—as can be seen in its 14th Five-year Plan’s (14FYP’s) aim to increase self-reliance, and even achieve self-sufficiency, in parts of the economy—are a real cause for concern. European companies are unsure about the extent to which they will be able to contribute to China’s future growth, with some fearing market exit, and there are now doubts over China’s future growth trajectory.

When Beijing first embarked upon bold reforms in the late 1970s, its economy was propelled forward at breath-taking speed. In the intervening four decades, however, reforms have vacillated as Beijing has struggled to solve the contradiction between achieving growth and maintaining control over the economy. The solution that appears to have been settled upon in order to address these seemingly irreconcilable propositions is ‘dual circulation’ theory—the core of the 14FYP—adherence to which will require China to deviate from the spirit of the 1970s reform and opening as it increasingly relies on its own companies to service its vast domestic market.

While China seems to currently accept the costs of pursuing such a course, the European Chamber believes that the damage it will cause to China’s economy in the long-run will not be acceptable.

“The European Chamber is concerned that China’s economy will continue to underperform if it steers away from bold reforms in favour of a more insular approach,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “Our member companies play a pivotal role in China’s economy, and the 930 constructive recommendations they provide in this report are aimed at developing an optimal business environment that will allow China to reach its full economic potential.”

Download the report here.



北京,2021 年 9 月 23 日—中国欧盟商会于今日正式发布《欧盟企业在中国建议书2021/2022》(下文简称“《建议书》”)。该报告是商会最重要的出版物和其年度工作计划的基础。《建议书》中囊括的 930 项建设性建议由 35 个工作组和子工作组在 6 个月的时间内汇编而成。这些建议不仅列举说明了在华欧洲企业所面临的巨大挑战,也包含这些企业对于支持改善营商环境所做出的承诺。

虽然新冠疫情和地缘政治紧张态势带来的双重挑战导致 2020 年充满诸多困难,但在华欧洲企业在总体上依然表现良好,并继续坚定投资中国市场。中国市场仍孕育不少商业机 会,然而,“十四五”规划提出在部分经济领域加强“自力更生”和实现“自给自足”,这种加强“内循环”的迹象引起了欧洲企业对未来能为中国经济发展做出贡献的程度产生担忧,甚至担心有退出中国市场的可能性,此外还有一些对中国经济未来增长的不确定。

自二十世纪七十年代坚定不移地推行改革开放以来,中国的经济发展以惊人的速度前进。四十年来,中国试图掌握保持经济增长与对经济的调控之间的平衡,导致改革方向摇摆不定。为了解决这些难题,中国政府决定采取“双循环”经济发展格局, 并将其作为“十四五”规划的核心。 坚持“双循环”, 意味着中国将偏离一直以来坚持的改革开放精神,转而更多依赖本土公司来服务庞大的国内市场。

目前看来,中国打算接受新发展格局可能造成的影响。中国欧盟商会担心,从长远来看, 以“内循环”为主的战略将会对中国经济造成重大影响。

中国欧盟商会主席伍德克表示,“中国欧盟商会担忧如果改变过往经济改革的路径,转而采取更为保守的做法,中国经济下行压力增大。我们的会员企业在中国经济发展历程中扮演着重要角色,他们在这份报告中为改善营商环境所提出的 930 条建设性建议将会帮助中国最大程度地发挥其经济潜能。”


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Xinhe Fan

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