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Beijing Remains Global Sci-tech Capital Magnet with Innovations
2024-05-09 ICCSD

The Chinese capital Beijing is striving to maintain its appeal to global investors by promoting sci-tech innovation, as the country makes every effort to foster new quality productive forces.

Deals worth over 61 billion yuan (about $8.58 billion) covering 23 major projects were signed on Thursday at the Invest Beijing Conference, a sideline event of the ongoing 2024 Zhongguancun Forum (ZGC Forum), which lasts from April 25 to 29 in Beijing's Zhongguancun, known as "China's Silicon Valley".

The projects involve 11 industrial sectors, with the contract value in the field of science and technology for people's livelihoods, such as carbon neutrality, medical health and clean energy, hitting 20.92 billion yuan.

Among them, the Zhongguancun Science City, Malaysia MRANTI Science and Innovation Cooperation Platform was unveiled at the conference. The two sides will launch practical cooperation on park construction, innovative ecological construction and incubation of sci-tech enterprises.

"This collaboration highlights the deepening partnership between Malaysia and China, especially in the key areas of science, technology and innovation," said Chang Lih Kang, Malaysia's minister of science, technology and innovation.

"We are eager to expand our cooperation in various fields, including digital economy, green economy, modern agriculture and biomedicine. This reflects our shared interests and vibrant relationship," Chang added.

In addition, a total of 231 investment projects covering advanced and emerging industries, including information technology, intelligent manufacturing, integrated circuits, artificial intelligence (AI) and green energy, were announced at the conference, with a total value of nearly 90.22 billion yuan.

At the ZGC Forum, Stephen Perry, president emeritus of Britain's 48 Group Club, shared his thoughts on developing new quality productive forces and innovation's leading role. He said it is AI, big data and the internet that have changed the face of human services and manufacturing.

Some multinational companies are considering setting up their new divisions in China, because they can develop products more efficiently, Perry said.

"Beijing still remains attractive, even though the geopolitical situation is quite difficult," said Irene Pivetti, president of the Italy-China Friendship Association, who has been committed to promoting cooperation between China and European enterprises, in an interview with Xinhua during the ZGC Forum.

In Pivetti's view, China is the country that has invested by far the most in high-tech development. "This would attract a lot of technology companies to cooperate. So what's attractive is the innovation that could be also more attractive," she said.

As a rising sci-tech innovation hub in the globe, Beijing boasts around 100 colleges and universities and over 1,000 scientific research institutions. Meanwhile, it houses some 28,200 high-tech enterprises, with the number of unicorn companies hitting 114 by the end of last year.

Driven by sci-tech innovation, Beijing has become fertile ground for foreign investment. Data from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics and National Bureau of Statistics shows that the actual utilized foreign direct investment reached $13.71 billion in 2023, of which $5.81 billion were in scientific research and technical services, accounting for 42.4 percent of the total.

A total of 1,729 foreign-funded enterprises were newly established in Beijing last year, an increase of 22.8 percent over the previous year. The number of foreign R&D centers in Beijing reached 107 as of January this year. And the number of regional headquarters of multinational corporations in the capital had totaled 244 by the end of March.

"It can be seen that scientific and technological innovation has become Beijing's advantage in attracting foreign investment, and has played an important leading role," said Jane Yang, managing partner of Ernst & Young Beijing Office.

Beijing, which is at the forefront of cultivating new quality productive forces in the country, will bring broad opportunities for global capital in sci-tech innovation cooperation, investment in emerging high-tech and sophisticated industries, participation in major sci-tech projects, and transformation of sci-tech achievements, according to Yang.

Meanwhile, Beijing accelerates the exploration of new ways for the capital market to enable the development of sci-tech innovation, and builds a new ecology of benign interaction between the capital market and sci-tech innovation, which will also provide more diversified investment channels and opportunities for global capital, Yang said.

"China should do more promotion about the opportunities to invest in China, in particular in its capital," said Pivetti, adding that Beijing is the representative of the region, a fact that points to great expectations of future development.