It was a typical September day in Xiamen, Fujian province－heat wave accompanied by humidity were on the rampage, and people were eager to find shelter from the sun. Any shade would be welcome, thank you.
Yet, in front of the Xiamen International Conference and Exhibition Center, men and women in business professional attire were a busy lot. They went through the security checks in an orderly way, to reach the 22nd China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT), held from Sept 8 to 11.
Initiated 25 years ago, the fair has become one of the world's largest and most influential events of its kind for the promotion of international investment and free trade. People's enthusiasm for the event remained high despite the unpleasant weather and the overhang of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During my stay, I conducted a number of interviews. I heard fair participants repeatedly say that the four-day event fully demonstrated China's devotion to boosting two-way investment and global economic recovery.
The nation is also capable of sustaining its attraction for foreign investment despite the slowdown in global foreign investment activities, multinational corporation executives and experts said.
Huang Bin, chairman of Astra-Zeneca Pharmaceuticals China Co, a subsidiary of the UK-headquartered pharma giant, said China's continuously improving business environment and its promising economic prospects have been offering broad development space for foreign investors.
He spoke highly of the nation's efforts to build a market-oriented, law-based and international business environment through concrete actions. The implementation of the new foreign investment law, the continuous downsizing of the negative list for foreign investment, and the nation's applications to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement demonstrate China's resolve in this regard, he said.
The two pacts are widely considered as representative of high-level international trade and investment liberalization standards.
Despite challenges, China's long-term economic prospects are bright, Huang said, adding foreign investors and MNCs, including AstraZeneca, are confident about their development prospects in China.
Wang Jie, vice-president of Schneider Electric, also said the company sees great development opportunities in China, its second-largest market, as the nation accelerates industrial digitalization and pays increasing attention to sustainable development.
The CIFIT in Xiamen mirrored such strong confidence－more than 480 project deals with a combined investment value of 342 billion yuan ($49.11 billion) were signed.
More than 800 industrial and trade groups, more than 4,000 enterprises, and about 60,000 business people from over 90 countries and regions attended the fair online and offline.
That is to say, the combined number of fair participants and exhibition visitors set a new record in the fair's history.