Business analyst Shaun Rein, author of The War for China’s Wallet: Profiting from the New World Order explained at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club how foreign companies become winners and losers in China. The “methodical, systematic plan” to garner support for the One Belt, One Road initiative was the result of a “divide and conquer” strategy on the part of the Chinese government, he said.
The Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club:
“China is no longer a cheap place to do business. The cost of doing business is crazy high,” he said at the December 12 club breakfast.
Rein pointed out that foreign brands including KFC and Starbucks make a huge profit in China. But he warned that multinationals were increasingly adhering to the political goals of Beijing in order to operate there. Publicly backing the One Belt, One Road initiative – President Xi’s development strategy to establish trade routes between Eurasian countries – is one way of staying in favour with the Communist Party. Those who speak out against China, said Rein, risk economic punishment or outright banishment. He gave the example of the Philippines, whose mango imports to China were blocked after an international tribunal on territorial disputes ruled in favour of the Philippines. The block was lifted once Rodrigo Duterte came to power in the Philippines and declared allegiance to China over America.
“The theme of the book is that China punishes and rewards countries,” Rein said. But he added that now China has also started punishing foreign companies for the actions of their countries’ governments, citing South Korea’s Lotte Group, which provided land in South Korea for the U.S. THAAD missile system.
Rein said the “methodical, systematic plan” to garner support for the One Belt, One Road initiative was the result of a “divide and conquer” strategy on the part of the Chinese government.
He predicted that multinational financial services would continue to suffer in China, but that foreign insurance companies would flourish, as would wealth management.
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