A smart container terminal at Tianjin Port in North China's Tianjin on Jan 17, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
These are difficult times for countries economically, China included. With economic activities suspended in numerous places as the country implements prevention and control measures to curb the spread of the Omicron strain of the novel coronavirus, there has been growing pessimism over the Chinese economic outlook.
With production, consumption and investment all taking a hit amid the country's strict measures to contain the virus, there seems to be the assumption that broken supply chains will prompt an exodus of foreign companies. The suggestion is that the country looks increasingly like an isolated island, and that as more and more countries lift their pandemic-related restrictions and open up, companies will move their operations elsewhere.
Figures from the Ministry of Commerce, however, paint a very different picture, indicating that the country remains a favorite destination for international investors. In the first four months of this year, the country actually utilized 478.6 billion yuan ($70.49 billion) of foreign capital, showing 20.5 percent growth over the same period last year. Rather than fleeing the Chinese market, overseas funds seem to be flowing its way. Predictions that the ups and downs of the pandemic situation and the uncertainties in international relations that are conspicuously remolding the external environment would lead to the estrangement of the Chinese economy have proved to be unfounded.
On the contrary, the Chinese market continues to show its appeal. The investments of the Republic of Korea, the United States and Germany rose 76.3 percent, 53.2 percent, and 80.4 percent year-on-year respectively in the first four months of the year. Even the country's hi-tech industries, which have been subject to harsh external curbs, have received 45.6 percent more international investments year-on-year.
Contrary to speculation that the strict pandemic-related restrictions would prompt foreign companies to "vote with their feet" by leaving, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade offered another footnote to foreign investors' continuous confidence in China. Despite the challenges they have encountered recently as well as the fact their business will inevitably suffer this year, "the absolute majority" of foreign-invested companies in China still deem China to be one of the main markets of strategic significance.
The scale, predictability, and stability of the Chinese market determine its continued attraction, as many local analysts have observed.
This view is supported by the American Chamber of Commerce in China's "China Business Report 2022", which found the country remains one of top three investment destinations for 60 percent of US companies that plan to invest globally.
There are both long-term challenges and short-term pressures to be overcome, but the growth in the foreign investment is a vote of confidence that the country will be able to do so.