The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham) assembled over 20 global/ APAC CEOs to share their insights on foreign business in the New China at its Annual China Conference, held at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong on September 9.
Opening Keynote Speaker Christopher Johnson, Senior Adviser and Freeman Chair in China Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) gave an economic-political perspective on China’s trajectory in the midst of the recent G20 Summit and the imminent U.S. presidential election. Topics covered included China’s political outlook and foreign policies, developments in the South China Sea and the impact of the U.S. presidential race on U.S.-China bilateral relations.
Johnson noted that China’s political outlook is “a lot more opaque” than decades ago when the leadership was guided by a pragmatic approach to economic growth and a projected image of leadership unity. The current emphasis on cultural, ideological, and anti-corruption work seems to have put more pressure on the system and creates new challenges in U.S.-China bilateral relations, he noted.
“There is a real problem in U.S.-China bilateral mechanism right now in that President Xi has put so much more emphasis for policy making on the party instead of this sort of formal government bureaucracy, and so our traditional mechanism for interaction through the foreign ministry, through things like the Strategic and Economic Dialogue are troubled. And I think it is going to create some real need for some ingenuity and some unique thinking on how we might restructure some of those relationships.”
He added that Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), if not ratified by the U.S., would be “the biggest gift to China” in forfeiting growing trade opportunities in the Asia Pacific.
China’s structural slowdown anticipated before ‘old’ economy phased out
Dr. Huang Yiping, Member of the Monetary Policy Committee at People’s Bank of China observed that China’s slowdown is “more structural than cyclical” and noted the need to stabilize growth before pushing the economy in order to create a more favorable reform environment.
Dr. Huang is “cautiously optimistic” about the Chinese economy with a rapidly rising middle class. He cited the more difficult challenge being “how to get rid of unprofitable zombie firms” in old, uncompetitive industries in order to make room for new industries especially in financing capacity.
“One Megalopolis, Two Systems”
In conference concluding remarks, AmCham President Richard Vuylsteke emphasized the importance of “coopetition” between Hong Kong and PRD cities – “One of the biggest challenges business people here in Hong Kong face, is to drive discourse forward that Hong Kong does not stand alone in being competitive, but our competitiveness is directly aligned to how well we execute our cooperation and competition interactions with the other cities in the Pearl River Delta,” Vuylsteke noted.
Four panel discussions at the Conference focused on –
- Finding Paths in the New China
- Collaboration & Competition: New Dynamics in Chinese-Foreign Business Ties
- Hong Kong and the Chinese Financial Reforms
- Megacities and Regionalization
The speakers and moderators included:
- Christopher Johnson, Senior Advisor and Freeman Chair in China Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
- Dr. Huang, Yiping Professor of Economics at National School of Development, Peking University; Member of the Monetary Policy Committee People’s Bank of China
- Mark Austen, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA)
- Jeanette Chan, Managing Partner of China Practice, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
- Sanjeev Chatrath, Managing Director of Financial & Risk for Asia Pacific and Japan, Thomson Reuters
- Sean Chiao, President of Asia Pacific, AECOM
- Michael Falcon. Chief Executive Officer of Asia Pacific, Global Investment Management, J.P. Morgan Asset Management
- Dr. William. Fung Group Chairman, Li & Fung
- Robert Grieves. Founder, Chairman & CEO, Hamilton Advisors Limited
- Kenneth Hitchner. President, Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific Ex-Japan
- Lisa Jucca. Editor in Charge, Asia Financial Services, Thomson Reuters
- Malcolm Kay. Superintendent Emeritus, Stamford American School – Hong Kong
- Dr. Stephan Kothrade. President Functions Asia Pacific, President and Chairman Greater China, BASF
- Lincoln Leong. CEO, MTR Corporation
- Steve Mullinjer. Regional Leader, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, Heidrick & Struggles
- Tom O’Reilly, President, Asia Pacific, Rockwell Automation
- James Quinnild, Financial Services Consulting – Asia Pacific Leader; China / HK Consulting COO, PwC
- Kevin Sneader, Chairman, Asia, McKinsey & Company
- Ryan Stork, Chairman, Asia Pacific, BlackRock
- Dr. Tao Wang, Chief China Economist; Co-Head of Asia Economics, UBS Investment Bank
- Ben Way, CEO, Macquarie Group Asia
- Andrew Weir, Global Chairman of Real Estate and Construction; Regional Senior Partner, Hong Kong; Head of Capital Markets, KPMG China, KPMG
- Yan Xuan, President, Greater China, Nielsen
More than 280 corporate executives, analysts, and government officials, attended the Conference, along with more than 26 media representatives.
This year’s event was generously sponsored by Stamford American School Hong Kong, Thomson Reuters, AECOM, KPMG, Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, CUHK Business School, Heidrick & Struggles, JLL, Rockwell Automation together with United Airlines as Airline Partner and PR Newswire as the Official Newswire Partner. Media Partners include Reuters TV, Asia Briefing, Bloomberg, Caixin.com, China Briefing, China Daily, and CNBC.
In the intervening months before next year’s China Conference, AmCham HK plans to host a series of speaker events that will further address topics raised in the China Conference.
Three photographs taken at 2016 China Conference are attached below.
Photo 1: Opening Ketnote Speaker Christopher Johnson
Panel I: Finding Paths in the New China (From left: Kevin Sneader, Dr. William Fung, Ryan Stork and Kenneth Hitchner)
Photo 2: Luncheon Keynote Speaker Dr. Huang Yiping (Photos: AmCham HK)
Ms. Queenie Tsui
Assistant Manager, Government Relations & Public Affairs
Tel: (852) 2530 6914
ABOUT AMCHAM HONG KONG
With about 1,600 members, the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham) is one of the largest American Chambers outside the United States, the largest international chamber in Hong Kong, and one of the most dynamic and influential international business organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. AmCham’s mission is to foster commerce among the United States, Hong Kong, and Mainland China; and to enhance Hong Kong's stature as an international business center