Chongqing‘s party boss has told a group of visiting business leaders from Hong Kong and abroad that the municipality will be more open to foreign investment, in a bid to reassure them in the wake of Bo Xilai‘s downfall.
“Chongqing will definitely further open up and be more active in terms of its economic development,” Zhang Dejiang (pictured) told a number of prominent entrepreneurs who attended the 2012 Annual Conference of CEC/CEDA and Liangjiang Forum in the economically robust southwestern municipality on Saturday.
Before the forum, Mika Vehvilainen, the president and CEO of Finnair; David Hsu, director of Jardine Matheson; and Dr Annie Wu Shuk-ching, chairwoman of Beijing Air Catering, were among those attending a rarely seen high-profile meeting with Zhang that lasted roughly 45 minutes on Friday afternoon.
Other top figures from businesses such as Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) were also present at the meeting.
“Just like a salesman, one of my main tasks … is to tout Chongqing as a destination for investment,” Zhang said. “You’re all welcome to come and invest here. And you’ll be greeted warmly even if you don’t want to make an investment and come here simply for travelling.”
Zhang, also a vice-premier, was picked to take the helm of the sprawling metropolis on March 15, replacing disgraced former municipal party boss Bo, who was removed from office for “violating party discipline”.
Chonqing’s political stability, and business and investment policies, have been key concerns of many businessmen since Bo’s abrupt downfall.
But Wu said she wasn’t too worried. Entrepreneurs, she said, could still be successful if they found a niche in Chongqing and carefully planned their business.
Others, however, said on condition of anonymity that they were taking a wait-and-see approach, calling Zhang nothing more than a transitional figure who might soon leave Chongqing.
According to previously unreleased economic data for 2011, Chongqing secured about US$10.58 billion in foreign investment last year, up 66.1 per cent from the previous year, putting it first among provinces and other regions in the mainland’s midwest. The municipality’s gross domestic product reached 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.22 trillion) for the first time – up more than 16 per cent from 2010.
- Chongqing torturers now the hunted, ex-lawyer says (chinadailymail.com)
- “I will return,” says Bo Xilai to his Japanese friend (chinadailymail.com)
- Bo scandal: Chongqing trying to recoup losses (todayonline.com)
South China Morning Post