Tech, business partnerships boost China-Europe cooperation
  ·  2022-12-22  ·   Source: Xinhua News Agency


A freight train carrying 100 TEUs of goods departs from Yiwu, east China's Zhejiang Province, for Minsk in Belarus, October 21, 2020, marking the 1,000th trip by China-Europe cargo trains in the province this year (XINHUA) 

From Yiwu City in east China's Zhejiang Province, a freight train loaded with 100 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of auto parts departed on Dec. 15 for the Belarusian capital Minsk.

By December 20, Yiwu, often referred to as "the world's supermarket," has run 1,559 "Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe" freight train trips this year, up by 24.5 percent year on year.

Connecting China's major small-commodity hub with Europe, the cargo line has also helped deepen economic and trade exchanges between China and Europe from partnerships between new-energy vehicle companies to the ongoing overseas business trips backed by local Chinese governments, and is bringing more cooperation possibilities.

Robust trade 

Chinese-branded passenger cars have been increasingly recognized in Europe. Lynk & Co, an automobile brand owned by Geely and with a plant in Yuyao City in Zhejiang, delivered more than 4,400 vehicles on Dec. 1-18 from Chinese ports, which would arrive at Belgium's Port of Zeebrugge in a month.

New energy vehicles have been a hit. From January to October, Chinese companies exported some 499,000 new energy vehicles, increasing by 96.7 percent year-on-year and accounting for 20.3 percent of the total auto exports, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The Ningbo-Zhoushan port in Zhejiang last month saw the arrival of the final 93 cars in the shipment of 402 domestically produced new energy vehicles on a container freight train from neighboring Jiangsu Province. These vehicles were then transferred to a container ship bound for Europe.

Smaller items have also been a driver for China-Europe trade. Since autumn, small heating facilities such as electric blankets and fan heaters have gained noticeable popularity in Europe, most of which are produced in eastern China's manufacturing hubs of small home appliances.

At the peak of export, the demand for heating appliances increased by nearly 50 percent year-on-year, with most products bound for the Netherlands, France, Germany and Poland, data from China's e-commerce giant Alibaba showed.

Orders from Europe have largely increased this year due to multiple reasons, said Hu Xuechong, vice general manager of an electric appliance company in Zhejiang. "We estimate that the annual export sales will increase by around 30 percent year-on-year."

In the first 10 months of 2022, China-European Union (EU) trade value hit $711.4 billion, up 6.3 percent year-on-year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. China remains the largest trading partner of the EU, and the EU remains China's second-largest trading partner, spokesperson Shu Jueting told a media conference on Dec. 1.

"Two-way trade between China and the EU has seen positive growth for consecutive years, and despite difficulties, the mainstream of China-EU economic and trade relations has always been win-win cooperation," said Li Yong, a senior fellow at the China Association of International Trade.

Technological bond 

In March 2022, Dutch dredging and offshore contractor Boskalis, in a consortium with its Chinese partner Ningbo Orient Cable (NBO), a land and subsea cable solutions provider, secured a contract to install the export cables for the 700-megawatt Hollandse Kust West Beta offshore wind connection in the Netherlands.


Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto speaks during a ceremony in Debrecen, Hungary, on September 5. Chinese battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL) signed a real estate deal with the city of Debrecen in Hungary, marking the official launch of its second European plant (XINHUA)  

In the project, which is part of the Dutch national roadmap to achieve a 49 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, the NBO designs and supplies the high-voltage cable system, Boskalis said in a press release.

Submarine cables, as the "artery" connecting the coast and the ocean, are the critical equipment for developing marine resources and the marine economy, the NBO's Vice President Pan Chuzhi told Xinhua.

"This project has enhanced the confidence of the European market in Chinese manufacturing, and also shows that China-EU scientific and technological cooperation has unlimited prospects," Pan said, adding that with China's carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals, the new energy industry in China and Europe has great potential.

The technological bond between Chinese and European enterprises has been strengthened in various sectors.

When Lynk & Co, the Geely automobile brand, started its design, the nightlife in Shanghai was an inspiration for the team, said Stefan Rosen, senior vice president of Lynk & Co Design. "That became the story that we built upon the first generation of cars so very much focused on the city, the people's lives in the city, and they would enjoy this car in that environment."

For Geely to go global, the China-Euro Vehicle Technology, an innovation center for Geely located in Sweden's automotive cluster Gothenburg launched in 2013, was the catalyst, Fredrik Hedfors, head of the Lynk & Co EU Center, told Xinhua.

"We have learned a lot about the Chinese speed, and they have learned a lot about our structural way of developing technical solutions for the global arena, so it's a marriage between the East and West, but we come with different experiences," he said.

2022 witnessed more Chinese companies going global. In September, Chinese battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited signed a real estate deal with the city of Debrecen in Hungary, marking the official launch of its second European plant. Later that month, Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO celebrated the shipment of the first battery swap station produced by the NIO Power Europe Plant, the company's first overseas plant, to Germany.

"It only took seven weeks from July 29, when we announced the start of production. That's truly remarkable," Qin Lihong, co-founder and president of NIO, said.

"China has the advantage of complete industrial chains and strong production capacity, which can complement European countries' advantages in precision manufacturing and cutting-edge technology to achieve mutual benefits," said He Xiyao, associate professor at Zhejiang International Studies University and also an expert on China-EU trade.


A Geely's Geometry C electric car is seen on display before the signing ceremony in Budapest, Hungary, on November 4. Chinese automaker Geely Auto Group has entered the European Union (EU) market by signing an agreement with Hungarian car importer Grand Automotive Central Europe (GACE) (XINHUA) 

More opportunities 

From December 2022 to the end of 2023, Zhejiang, a foreign trade powerhouse in eastern China, plans to arrange overseas business trips for at least 10,000 enterprises, the provincial commerce department said, part of a campaign initiated by the department earlier this month to boost business orders and expand markets for the province's vast number of trade-oriented enterprises.

The past two weeks have seen entrepreneurs from Zhejiang attend trade fairs, establish contacts with potential customers and engage in business negotiations in countries including France, Germany, Japan, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

With sufficient support from local governments, economic and trade delegations seeking business opportunities is a boost to confidence for the market.

Fei Zhongfu, chairman of Ruili Textile, a Chinese manufacturer of knitted fabric, got an order worth over $500,000 while in Europe with Zhejiang's delegations. "My German customer told me that I'm his first Chinese supplier in the past three years," Fei said.

German and French businessmen are willing to communicate with their Chinese counterparts, he said, adding that during this trip, he has not only gained orders but also made up his mind to set up warehouses and factories in Europe.


A worker checks electric heaters at a company in Foshan, south China's Guangdong Province, on September 29. Foshan from June to August this year saw the export of heating equipments to countries of the European Union in worth of 94 million yuan (about $13.2 million), up 154.4 percent year-on-year (XINHUA) 

As China optimized the COVID-19 policies, more foreign enterprises have shown stronger confidence in the Chinese market. Michael Schumann, chairman of Germany's Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade, said he would visit Zhejiang with his members after the upcoming Chinese New Year.

Many foreign enterprises, including European multinationals, are expanding investment in China. In October, a new quartz semiconductor manufacturing base invested by German tech group Heraeus and Japanese tech company Shin-Etsu Chemical started construction in Shenyang, the capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province. In November, Germany's BMW Group invested some 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) to support the expansion of its power battery production project in Shenyang. In December, Swiss tech giant ABB's largest robotics factory started operations in Shanghai.

Foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 14.4 percent year-on-year to 1089.9 billion yuan ($156 billion) in the first 10 months of the year, in which investment from Germany and Britain increased by about 96 percent and 40 percent respectively, according to data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

During China's tone-setting annual Central Economic Work Conference recently, policymakers said greater efforts will be made to attract foreign capital, widen market access, promote the opening-up of modern service industries, and grant foreign-funded enterprises national treatment.

"The specific measures taken by China to improve the business environment and embrace foreign investment show China's determination to continue to open wider to the outside world," said Joerg Wuttke, president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, adding that China is still the best choice for European enterprises.


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