EurAsia Info interviewed Ms Feimeng Zhang, Director of General Office of Invest Shenzhen after the seminar, to get a few more insights.
On the afternoon of September 18th, an investment seminar was held in Zürich, hosted by a delegation from Invest Shenzhen, an organization assigned by the Shenzhen municipal government. Attendees included passionate Swiss entrepreneurs, representatives from Zürich municipal government, professors from ETH Lausanne, as well as interested groups and individuals. During the seminar, representatives from “Invest Shenzhen” presented the economic development of Shenzhen, its key industries and the support from the government. It was a warm and sincere welcome message to the Swiss companies and entrepreneurs. EurAsia Info interviewed Ms Feimeng Zhang, Director of the General Office of “Invest Shenzhen” after the seminar in order to get some more insights.
Ms Zhang: Yes, it is the first time in such a scale. However, it has been a long time since we actually started our collaboration with Swiss enterprises. As it is known to all, Switzerland is an important world centre of the banking industry. Moreover, we discovered that 80% of the capital of the banking industry in Switzerland is centralized in Zürich which is truly a capital-intensive city. That’s why we chose Zürich, in the hope of enhancing the communication with the experts in banking, finance and investment industries here.
EurAsia Info : Therefore, the main goal of your visit is to attract Swiss capital to invest in Shenzhen?
Ms Zhang: Shenzhen is a newly developed metropolis and we always welcome capital from overseas to accelerate the development of Shenzhen. Shenzhen is one of the three financial centres in mainland China. Compared to Beijing and Shanghai, the advantage of Shenzhen is that our capital is particularly well connected to manufacturing industries. Apart from introducing Swiss capital to Shenzhen, our second goal is to learn modern concepts from Swiss investors, i.e. how they actually invest precisely. The third goal is to enhance mutual communication and to see if there are potential projects for collaboration. Nowadays, cross-border merges have become increasingly common and we believe that the enterprises in Shenzhen have the adequate capability and are well equipped for globalization.
EurAsiainfo.ch: What are the industries you think have a good potential to be successful in Shenzhen?
Ms Zhang: Finance is certainly one of the industries that we pay close attention to. Besides that, Switzerland is the world leader in high-end manufacturing, in watch design, pharmaceutical and modern service industry. These are all the type of industries that China needs. In addition, as a key European city, I feel what distinguishes Zürich from its peers such as London and Paris, is that it’s a very friendly, innovative and tolerant city which is very similar to Shenzhen. Consequently, we would also like to learn the modern concept of urban management from Zürich. To some extent, this is more vital for us.
EurAsia Info : Compared with other first-tier cities in China, what do you think is the greatest advantage that Shenzhen has in attracting external investment?
Ms Zhang: That’s a very good question, a question that all entrepreneurs are keen to hear. You could find all the figures regarding Shenzhen’s economic prosperity and government support policies on our website, however, what I would especially like to emphasize is actually our ‘soft’ environment. And that is the source for our confidence we have in attracting world-class projects.
When an entrepreneur arrives in Shenzhen, he will find himself in a completely fair market competition, supported by an efficient and transparent government service and an international legal environment – especially in terms of protection of intellectual property, we believe we are doing the best in mainland China so far. A phrase frequently mentioned by my boss, the head of “Invest Shenzhen”, is that we need not only to “attract” companies, but also to “keep” them and to “grow” them well. We hope that companies could grow together with Shenzhen – that’s the win-win situation we would love to see.
EurAsia Info : Is there an example of a Swiss company having settled down in Shenzhen successfully and achieved good results?
Ms Zhang: There are many. Last year, we reached a collaboration with ABB group of Switzerland. They chose Shenzhen to host their first and only research centre in mainland China. It is a mutual choice: we are very selective in attracting companies; as Shenzhen has limited space, we are obliged to precisely target the strategic industries; for ABB on the other hand, they made the decision because they were impressed by the density of engineers in Shenzhen while having their manufacturing sites located near Shenzhen, in other places of Guangdong. I will stop here giving more details. I think the fact that a Fortune 500 company and world leader in the manufacturing industry wants to build their research centre in Shenzhen, is already the answer to many questions. We are proud of it.
EurAsia Info : I guess what Shenzhen would like to attract is not only capital, but also talents – is that also one of your goals this time? What kind of advantages Shenzhen can offer to attract talents?
Ms Zhang: Indeed. Besides attracting capital, the second focus of our work is to attract talents, along with their research program. The thirst for talents is shared by all big cities in the world. You may have heard of “the Recruitment Program of Global Experts” (known as “the Thousand Talents Plan”) initiated by the Chinese central government. Correspondingly, we have a ‘Peacock Program” in Shenzhen, named after the ancient Chinese poem “The Peacock to south-east” (Shenzhen is in the south east of China). We provide all kinds of support to Chinese talents who would like to go back to Shenzhen after completing their studies overseas, including housing subsidies, elite school education of their children, etc. Furthermore, we have a pioneer park for start-ups, venture capital funds, as well as subsidies for the start-ups. It is truly a 360-degree support. We hope to enable these talents to quickly transform their expertise and experience into productive power, and achieve industrialization.
For particularly high-end talents, for example, those who have already their own team in institutions overseas and with a world-class research quality, we offer highly flexible conditions if they are ever willing to bring their programs to Shenzhen. To sum up, we have general support policies, but also offer highly customized and favourable support for top elites.
EurAsia Info : One year ago, Switzerland and China signed a Free Trade Agreement. Is there any positive impact for Shenzhen in attracting Swiss companies?
Ms Zhang: In fact, even before the agreement, trade between Switzerland and Shenzhen had been quite intense. Take the watch industry for instance: cooperation between both sides has a long history. The Swiss watch industry has built their manufacturing sites in Shenzhen, while the manufacturing companies of Shenzhen have built their design centres in Switzerland; so, Switzerland is responsible for design and quality control and Shenzhen takes care of the manufacturing. In areas like this, “free trade” has been realized long before the FTA. As more and more companies benefit from the agreement, I firmly believe that there will be an increasing number of industries who would enjoy a win-win collaboration, like what is happening now in the watch industry. Thank you!
EurAsia Info : Throughout the seminar and our interview with Ms Zhang, words like ‘win-win’, ‘collaboration’, and ‘communication’ have been mentioned again and again. Indeed, in a world where capital, technology and talents all are flowing on a global scale, ‘walking out’ and ‘letting in’ have become equally important. We believe in Shenzhen approaching the world with audacity and confidence. We believe in its ability to win the heart of visionary entreprZeneurs from Switzerland, Europe and all over the world. Thank you!
By EurAsia Info, Zhiyue Zhou, Ailian Zhu ■