China Exclusive: China’s opening up creating great opportunities: GE vice chairman

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BEIJING, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — John Rice, vice chairman of General Electric (GE), said the experience in China has made GE a better company and China’s opening up is creating great opportunities.

“China’s opening up drive is also encouraging companies like GE to participate in the development of markets outside China,” said Rice, who is accompanying US President Donald Trump on his visit to China.

He pointed to the Belt and Road as an example of how GE can benefit from China’s opening up.

“In many cases, we are well equipped in being a great partner along the Belt and Road and we can also benefit from that,” Rice told Xinhua.

To date, GE has partnered with over 30 Chinese EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) companies in more than 70 markets across Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe.

On the role of Chinese market in GE global strategy, Rice said, “In many aspects, our experience in China made us a better global company.”

The veteran U.S. entrepreneur, who made his first visit to China nearly 30 years ago, said he had been impressed by the changes in the country.

“There are always new chapters and new things to think about. And the lesson for us as a global company is you cannot stand still, you have to observe what’s changing in your markets and respond to that,” he said.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, GE was one of the first multinational enterprises to enter the Chinese market over a century ago.

During the visit, GE is expected to sign deals with Chinese partners, concentrating on power and aviation sectors, said Rice, adding that the deals would be “in the billions.”

On China’s economic slowdown , Rice said, “When the world’s second largest economy grew at 11 or 12 percent, everyone was excited about that. This year, China’s growth at 6 percent or so is orderly and planned. I I believe it’s more sustainable and predictable, and will lead to better outcomes.”

The slower but still robust economic growth of China is of great significance to investors, Rice said.

“The world economy is growing at about 3 percent while the second largest economy is growing at over 6 percent, which is very attracting under any circumstances,” he said.

“If you look around the world, when the economy of that size grows at that speed, it’s very significant. Even though it’s lower than five years ago, it’s still very healthy and good for investors,” he added.

Asked about his take on China-US economic and trade ties, Rice said it is of great importance for the world’s two largest countries to work together.

On trade imbalances, Rice said, “There are understandable reasons for the frictions to be resolved in a constructive way. I don’t think either country is at advantage if there’s a trade war.”

Questions can be resolved in a productive and constructive way, Rice said, adding that companies like GE can be a part of that solution.

GE is working with Chinese partners in infrastructure projects which incorporate goods made in the U.S. and other countries. “These both show as our exports to China, but they are created by the work we do with Chinese partners as well as partners along the Belt and Road,” he said.

On industrial internet that GE is good at, Rice saw China as one of the potential leaders of the new sector, as the country is doing well in “combining the power of data and the industrial side like manufacturing.”

“If you look at human capital and what China has done on the consumer side, there’s no reason to think that China won’t be a leader in industrial side,” said Rice, citing the fact that half of the global top ten digital e-commerce companies are in China.

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