We still need ChinaThe National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, two major political events in China, ended on Wednesday. The events have become global headline generators as witnessed in the number of foreign journalists - over 1,000 out of a total 3,200 - who gathered in Beijing to cover them. The reason is simple. This is the moment in which one can see the direction of the world’s largest economy. The main moment of this year’s events was the passage of China’s 13th five-year plan, a road map for its national economic and social development from 2016 to 2020.
China has presented annual growth of over 6.5 percent as a targeted range in a drastic attempt to turn the tide in its economic policy - from blind concentration on GDP growth through its export-driven economy at the sacrifice of the environment to a “new normal” characterized by slower growth and increased domestic consumption. Beijing is confident that even at that pace, China can achieve an annual growth that keeps its population happy.
To accomplish the goal, China plans to encourage corporate innovation on the supply side in order to upgrade its manufacturing sector along with an ambitious campaign to connect all types of manufacturing businesses to the Internet. China seeks to achieve economic growth through proactively beefing up domestic demand. As Prime Minister Li Keqiang said, the 13th plan is aimed at improving the quality of Chinese people’s lives.
Such development strategies offer challenges for us. If China continues to upgrade its industrial base, it means fiercer competition with our products in China’s domestic market and elsewhere. But what is noteworthy is the Chinese government’s hint at the possibility of expanding its imports of Korean products. The Korea International Trade Association interprets the move as an opportunity for our companies to penetrate the Chinese market more.
As Chinese consumers increasingly favor high-quality goods, Korean products such as pasteurized milk, baby bottles and sanitary pads - largely made by our midsize companies - are enjoying explosive popularity in China.
“Descendants of the Sun” - a Korean television drama produced with huge Chinese audiences in mind from the beginning - also has become a blockbuster in China. We are facing a new era in which Korean enterprises must pay as much attention to Chinese consumers as our citizens. Our companies must be fully prepared not to miss out on vast business opportunities expected thanks to China’s 13th economic plan.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 17, Page 34