Industry leaders and executives from the world's top 500 companies are to meet in October at the first annual Qingdao Multinationals Summit.
Organised by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Shandong Provincial Government, with the support of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, it will bring together key players from multinational corporations and leading figures from political and academic spheres.
Held in the coastal town of Qingdao, in the south east of Shandong Province, the summit will take place from 19-20 October, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
At a press conference held on 21 August, Vice Minister of Commerce Keming Qian announced the plans for the summit, which will focus on publicising the country's openness to international business and enhancing cooperation.
"China will provide more investment opportunities for multinational companies, and create a more stable, fair, transparent and predictable investment environment," he said.
Mr Qian explained that the summit forms part of a plan to implement President Xi Jinping's policies on 'running a meeting well and invigorating a city', which grew from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit held in Qingdao in June 2018.
President Xi Jinping has repeatedly highlighted the importance of creating a platform for dialogue between China and international corporations. Of the world's top 500 companies, 490 have invested in China, and Chinese companies themselves have risen to the challenges and benefits of globalisation. Fortune magazine's Global 500 list currently includes 119 Chinese companies.
The summit will also be used as an opportunity to promote Chinese cities and provinces not only as centres of excellence and potential sites for investment, but also as providers of highly trained personnel.
Topics under discussion at the summit will include development, responsibility and management, and ways in which companies can exchange ideas and build mutual trust.
During the summit, a closed-door meeting will also be held on the theme of the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law. The Ministry of Commerce is to organise this, with a view to discussing the various regulations and relevant laws with executives from participating multinational companies. Other closed-door sessions will be held on the themes of customs clearance facilitation and protection of intellectual property.
Several parallel exhibitions, forums and seminars will be also be held. Organised with the assistance of the Forbes Group, the Qingdao Multinationals Summit will celebrate the leading CEOs in China's multinationals with an awards ceremony, and some of Shandong province's companies will be holding forums to discuss development trends and mutually beneficial initiatives with participants.
Corporations from BP to Siemens and Hewlett-Packard will be holding roadshows and promotional events focusing on a wide range of topics, including the latest developments in IT, new sources of energy, cutting-edge equipment, health care, boutique tourism and finance.
The global response to the announcement of the summit has been positive, and so far 188 senior executives of foreign multinationals worldwide – 49 of them from top 500 companies – have announced their intention to attend. Representing businesses from 26 countries and regions, they will be joining leaders from at least 53 multinational companies in China.
Vice-Governor of Shandong Province Airong Ren told journalists that the summit provided the perfect opportunity for the province to bring about further integration with the country's plan to open up to foreign business and would provide impetus to the many energy transformation projects Shandong has in the pipeline.
"Multinational corporations are the leading force in economic globalisation and international investment, and the summit will demonstrate China's openness," she said. "Focusing on the issues of multinational corporations, disseminating their voices, sharing their experience, and creating a new platform to explore the resources of multinational corporations."
Located at the intersection of the 'Belt and Road' initiative, and a key area of the New Eurasia Land Bridge Economic Corridor, Shandong is responsible for nearly 10% of China's economic output, and already home to multinational corporations such as Haier, Tsingtao beer, Inspur and Hisense. Known for its investment in education and technology, the province is home to 21 key national laboratories, 303 science and technology business incubators and more than 8,900 high-tech enterprises.
The largest town in the province, Qingdao is to become the permanent home for the summit, bringing with it many opportunities for development and investment. According to Airong Ren: "Qingdao is accelerating construction as an open, modern, dynamic and stylish international metropolis."