Former S Korean PM: Shandong a magnet for high-tech firms

(| Updated : 2019-10-23

Print Print


Han Seung-soo, former prime minister of South Korea, is seen in an exclusive interview with China Daily on Oct 19 during his trip to the Qingdao Multinationals Summit held in Qingdao, Shandong province. [Photo/China Daily]

Editor's note: In an exclusive interview with China Daily at the Qingdao Multinationals Summit, Han Seung-soo, former prime minister of South Korea, said he thinks in the future many high-tech companies will be interested in coming to Shandong.

Q: President Xi Jinping has stressed at many occasions that China will never close its door to the outside world. The Qingdao Multinationals Summit is also a sign of China's firm determination and strong desire to open itself to the outside world. What changes will the summit bring to China?

A: Well, I am very pleased that the Qingdao Multinationals Summit is now being held in Qingdao. As you may know, Qingdao is really one of the most beautiful international cities where several very important international gatherings were already hosted like the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization last year and also the Global Health Forum of Boao Forum in June this year. So I am so happy that Qingdao is now becoming the host city for very important international gatherings, particularly for multinationals, which have played an important role during the process of multilateralism and globalization during the post-war period. China also benefits greatly from multinationals in China. As China is now moving forward to open more and also as the new foreign investment law is going to come into force next year, I think it's very timely that we are having this meeting here in Qingdao because lots of foreign businesspeople will be interested in knowing exactly what the future policy of China toward multinationals is going to be. So it's a very, very useful forum for all of us.

Q: What are your opinions and suggestions for the upcoming foreign investment law?

A: Unlike three foreign investment-related laws in the past, it has now been amalgamated into one for the investment law, which will introduce the pre-establishment national treatment and the Negative List management, as well as protect foreign investment and also intellectual property rights. This is very, very important for foreigners when they decide to come in, and I am sure that the enforcement of this law from next year will be very, very helpful for them. President Xi Jinping repeated this as China is going to further open the door. Also, Premier Li Keqiang paid a visit on Oct 14 to the Samsung Microchip Plant in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. There he said China is going to open further and will be happy to see many high-tech international corporations and multinationals come to China. These are the thoughts that create a very nice atmosphere in China. I am sure that many multinational corporations now attending this summit will take note of this change of mood in China.

Q: South Korea is Shandong's second-largest source of foreign investment and second-largest trading partner. Shandong and South Korea enjoy very frequent trade and personnel exchanges. What do you think of Shandong's business environment and what is the province's appeal to foreign companies?

A: Shandong is a special province to many Koreans. As you may know, we have already 60,000 Koreans living in Shandong province. We have about 3,000 companies working here in Shandong. And every week we have more than 200 flights between Shandong and South Korea, and also the nearest geography to South Korea. Shandong also has areas which were recently designated as free trade pilot zones, such as in Jinan, Yantai and Qingdao. So all in all, Shandong is becoming a very attractive place. It has already been an attractive place, but it's becoming a more attractive place to many Korean businesspeople, and I hope that the relation between the two could be further strengthened.

Q: The Shandong Pilot Free Trade Zone was launched recently. The province is also promoting its high-quality development and aims to build itself into a new high mark in opening-up. What will all these new opportunities bring to South Korean enterprises investing in Shandong?

A: Initially many Korean companies coming to Shandong came because of the low wages. But wages in China have grown up substantially now, and you are the second-largest economy in the world. So when they want to come to Shandong, I think they will come for other reasons, not for low wages. I think that in the future many high-tech companies will be interested in coming to Shandong, and also this area is one of the cleanest and environmentally friendliest regions of China. So we think the healthcare industry and pharmaceuticals will be interested in coming here. For example, one of the best hospitals in Korea is Yonsei University Severance Hospital, and Severance Hospital is now coming to Qingdao by establishing Qingdao Severance Hospital together with the Hiking Group. Also, Korea's oldest and best pharmaceutical company, Yuhan, decided to come to Qingdao, Shandong. So this will create lots of interest in Korea, and many people will really think twice before deciding to go elsewhere because it's the nearest to Korea, easy to come to, and offers living similar to Korea.