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Foreign partners focus on technology investment rather than just selling products.
With China deepening its opening-up strategy, foreign investors in various industries are seeking enhanced development opportunities with domestic partners in China, not only in selling products, but also in technology cooperation.
At the same time, domestic companies are also eager to sharpen their competitive edge and are no longer looking merely for capital cooperation but to gain higher production capacity from the cooperation with foreign partners, says Zhao Ying, a researcher at the Beijing-based Institute of Industrial Economics.
"Under the new normal, more foreign companies are pouring effort into technology investment and other areas rather than selling products."
Take Germany's Siemens AG, for instance. The industrial conglomerate partnered in November with Shanghai Hytera, a communication equipment company, to provide industrial solutions ranging from consultancy services to software.
"Such partnerships are aimed at helping local enterprises with digital transformation," says Wang Haibin, executive vice-president of Siemens China. "Siemens will continue to leverage advanced technologies in electrification, automation and digitalization to create value for Chinese clients."
In recent years, Siemens has provided consultation and solutions for a number of Chinese companies, such as HBIS Group, Baowu Group, Jinyu Biotechnology, Cathay Industrial Biotech, Yunnan Baiyao and Jomoo to help them go through digital upgrading.
Robert Bosch and Baidu, a Chinese internet giant, have also signed a strategic agreement, as Bosch was willing to get involved in Baidu's Apollo project and provide open software for the development of automated vehicles.
UPM Specialty Papers, a Finland-based forest industry company, also observed the shift in the demand from its Chinese market as its clients have been seeking deeper cooperation in environmental aspects.
"Over the years, China's rising living standards have driven and continue to drive demand for quality paper products," says Mary Ma, stakeholder relations director at the company's specialty paper business.
"We have seen an increased importance attached to environmental protection and public health. Both the government and improved public environmental awareness are encouraging people to make a responsible choice. We see great opportunities in using our expertise to transform how paper is made and consumed in China," she says.
"UPM's growth in China will continue to benefit from China's increasingly business-friendly and open environment."
On the consumption side, British luxury retailer The British House also recognized the large market potential. The retailer launched operations in Beijing last year and has brought in more than 100 brands from the United Kingdom.
"For many brands, including the luxury department store Harrods, it is the first time they have entered the Chinese market," says Lynne Hua, managing director for The British House in China. "We think the investment climate in China is becoming more open."
She suggests that foreign investors adapt to Chinese culture and pace of work and says local governments should provide more guidance and support for the companies that have just entered the market.