By Matt Greco
With an audience as full of Chinese citizens as of Americans, officials from the City of Shenzhen touted its appeal as a center for high-tech investment at a conference in New York City in October.
Conference attendees heard Shenzhen officials and local business people describe the southern city—in Guangdong province—as the ideal location for high-tech, American-backed ventures. Guangdong has long been a major hub of low-cost Chinese exports to the world. With a highly educated workforce, modern infrastructure and proximity to Hong Kong, Shenzhen is transforming itself into a high-end exporting center, conference speakers said. They also promoted China’s overall attractiveness and the industrial strengths of Shenzhen. industrial espionage and copyright infringement—key concerns for innovation-driven, patent-heavy high-tech ventures—were raised by members of the audience. In response, speakers said Chinese authorities have shown a commitment to improving legal enforcement of regulations ensuring fair competition.
The country adopted antitrust laws in 2008, and in fact, in November the Chinese government announced it was launching an investigation into two state-owned enterprises under anti-monopoly laws. This is an important development, as foreign investors have cited fears that the antitrust laws would be used to single out foreign companies, and not apply evenly to domestic firms—particularly state-owned firms.
Attendee Rosalind Rock, who enables joint ventures between US and Chinese firms in the entertainment sector, said one mechanism to overcome antitrust issues is to partner with a domestic Chinese firm. This way, US companies can be assured that they have a local partner who is as concerned as they are about copyright infringement and other intellectual theft issues. Joint ventures are shaping the business landscape in China, as are a new generation of native Chinese managers, many of whom have been trained and schooled in the West, Rock added.