Belt and Road Initiative brings business to Confucius hometown

Observer Report

Beijing

Many thriving companies in the metropolis of Jining are now ranked among the top 500 in the country Companies in Jining, the dynamic city in the southwest of Shandong province, are looking to profit from business opportunities brought about by the Belt and Road Initiative.
In 2008, Shandong Sun Paper Group, a Jining-based company in the paper-making sector, invested $200 million in a “forest-pulp-paper” integration project in Laos. Now, it’s time to reap the rewards.
The project was put into operation last year and now boasts 300 million yuan ($46.10 million) in annual revenue with an annual output of 300,000 metric tons of pulp.
“Ten years have passed and it is so inspiring that finally we made it,” said Wu Xinfang, the company’s communications manager.
“The project brought employment to the local people, which has increased their incomes and boosted the local economy.”
At present, Shandong Sun Paper Group has more than 10,000 employees and an annual production capacity of over 7.5 million tons of pulp and paper. There are plans to invest $640 million in another project in Laos in the future.
Shandong Yonghua Machinery, another of Jining’s companies that have actively invested overseas, has been working with high-tech companies in Germany’s manufacturing sector.
In 2014, it signed a comprehensive agreement with Rottler, a German manufacturer, for the joint development of high-end machine tools, while also emphasizing market development and brand building.
By sharing technology and resources with Rottler, Yonghua has introduced high-speed, high-precision milling processes and high-level technicians.
Chen Zhou, CEO of Yonghua, said the company is now leveraging Rottler’s sales channels to pave the way for broader market access in Europe and Turkey.
Another way the city’s industrial giants are pushing forward is by stepping up global acquisitions.
In February, textile manufacturer Shandong Ruyi announced the decision to purchase the Swiss luxury clothing brand Bally International in an agreement.
The year before, it acquired British clothing manufacturer Aquascutum for $117 million.
Ruyi’s first acquisition of a globally renowned brand came in 2010, and the company now owns a raft of world famous names such as Renown Incorporated, from Japan, and the SMCP Group in France.
“Acquisitions are win-win decisions,” said Li Yunpeng, Ruyi’s brand promotion director.
Through the purchase of foreign brands, Ruyi is able to enrich its own supply lines and learn more about brand building, while also giving the brands greater access to the Chinese market, Li said.
“In terms of manufacturing techniques or production quality, there is little difference between our Chinese products and these brands. The culture and design embedded in their DNA are what we should catch up with,” Li said.
With its acquisitions, Ruyi is looking to integrate its professional garment-designing resources, Li said.
Many of Jining’s companies now rank among the country’s top 500, as rated by China Enterprise Confederation. So far, a total of 51 Fortune 500 companies from overseas have invested in 92 projects in Jining, according to Yan Jianbo, deputy Party secretary of the city.
In evolving from a traditional agricultural city into a modern industrial one, Jining has developed a number of national-level industrial bases for coal chemicals, engineering machinery, biotechnology, new textiles and the optoelectronics industry, he said.
The city will deepen its reforms and strengthen its international business ties by advancing the national policy of reform and opening-up from a new starting point, Yan added.

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