Private Enterprises are looking to play a bigger role in promoting China’s Belt and Road Initiative to realise more benefits in foreign and domestic markets, according to industry experts.

Nan Cunhui
Photo: Nan Cunhui, Chairman of Chint Group, industrial electrical equipment.

Nan Cunhui, Chairman of Chint Group, China’s leading industrial electrical equipment and new-energy enterprise, said the BRI is bringing “huge” opportunities in foreign markets.

“Currently, more than 10,000 Chinese companies are doing business in Africa. Among them, 90 percent are private ones,” said Nan.

These private firms are providing African countries with strong support in infrastructure including roads, railways, airports, and ports. Such efforts will play a critical role in improving local employment, tax revenue as well as living conditions, he said.

As a private provider of high and low voltage products, Chint has offered such products and services to 80 percent of the BRI markets including Pakistan, Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia, and Russia.

Nan added that countries and regions involved in the BRI are the company’s expansion focus this year.

“While we are beefing up our presence in the BRI markets, localisation, as well as mergers and acquisitions, will continue to be our major strategies,” he said.

“Most of our staff in these countries are local people and there are indeed many good companies abroad. We can leverage these strategies to better LOCALISE in BRI countries and regions.”

To Date, the Wenzhou, Zhejiang province based firm has established manufacturing bases, research and development centres and logistics hubs in around 140 countries and regions. It has also built more than 100 photovoltaic power plants overseas.

In the past five years after the BRI was proposed, China has made significant achievements with the countries and regions involved in the initiative.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s top economic regulator, total trade volume between China and the countries and regions involved in the BRI have exceeded $6 trillion. The nation has already signed 171 cooperation documents with 29 international organisations and 123 countries.

During this process, Chinese private firms are also bringing advanced skills and management expertise to BRI economies.

China Communication Technology Co Ltd, a private provider of satellite services, started offering private satellite services to the Philippines from last year, after acquiring G Telecoms Inc, the third-biggest telecom operator in the local market.

“In the past, we could cooperate only with local telecom carriers in foreign countries through equipment sales. But with the BRI, we are changing our profile from a ‘seller’ to an ‘operator’ in the overseas markets,” said Wu Guangsheng, president of CCT.

Wu said that some 75 percent of the Philippines’ 100 million population are aged 25 years or under, thereby having a voracious demand for communication services.

The Shenzhen-based company is currently offering services and products in Europe, the Middle East and nine other countries and regions that are participating in the BRI. It has also secured a number of orders from civil aviation and public security departments in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Notably, our overseas forays are also of benefit to Chinese companies as well,” he said, “With more Chinese enterprises tapping opportunities in BRI regions, there is a huge need for communication services to maintain contact with offices at home and that’s where we can offer help,” Wu said.

In Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, for instance, smooth communication could be hard to achieve due to weak infrastructure there. The problem could be solved if the area has a well-established satellite communication network.

Shi Guilu, vice-president of All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, pointed out that with the BRI being promoted on a bigger scale and at a higher level, private businesses are playing an increasingly “irreplaceable” role.

“Major State-owned enterprises are better in leading big projects while private businesses are more flexible,” Shi said.