18 Jun 2020

Business China’s “Two Sessions” Series Part 2: Opportunities and Challenges for Singapore Businesses in China

On 10 June 2020, Business China successfully held the second part of the “Two Sessions” series, titled “Opportunities and Challenges for Singapore Businesses in China”. The series was jointly organised with Enterprise Singapore, Lianhe Zaobao and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI).

Panellists invited to speak at the session include, Ms Gao Shuo, Director of Government Affairs, Zuo Ye Bang, Mr Bo Yiqun, Founder and CEO, DayDayUp, as well as Mr Kenneth Lim, Managing Director, East China Commercial Management, CapitaLand (China).

The virtual sharing was held in Mandarin and attracted over 240 participants; comprising Business China members (young business leaders, senior executives of corporates and working professionals), youths, members of SCCCI and invited guests of Enterprise Singapore and Lianhe Zaobao.

Ms Yang Danxu, Associate China News Editor (Beijing Correspondent), Lianhe Zaobao moderated the session. Each panellist shared on the topics discussed during the “Two Sessions” (两会) 2020 and the outlook for their businesses.

Mr Kenneth Lim began by elaborating on the general challenges faced by brick and mortar businesses, such as the fierce competition among brands and growth of e-commerce. With the outbreak of Covid-19, he noted that brick and mortar businesses such as food & beverage, cinemas and retail industries have seen a huge decline in the number of consumers, further exacerbating their economic impact. Through the “Two Sessions”, the Chinese Government announced several policies to help boost domestic consumption - through expanding 5G applications, corporate tax savings and the distribution of shopping vouchers.

Since May 2020, Mr Lim observed a recovery in brick and mortar business activities. He suggested that businesses could make use of data analytics to better understand consumer trends and tap on online marketing platforms to expand consumer reach .

Ms Gao Shuo raised that during the “Two Sessions”, many official representatives and professionals spoke about the problems arising from online education as well as the rising demand for e-learning. At the macro level, she believed that the wide usage of technology developments like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and 5G would expedite the development of online classes.

Ms Gao shared that international businesses interested to enter the Chinese EdTech industry ought to place significant investments in human resource, capital funding and technical capabilities, and also be aware of the regulatory requirements in China.

Mr Bo Yiqun focused on explaining the concept of “new infrastructure development” (新基建) that was repeatedly emphasised during the “Two Sessions”. Mr Bo provided his definition on this term and elaborated on the tremendous economic contribution to China, which is expected to hit RMB 11 trillion (approximately SGD 2 trillion) in 2025. Singapore businesses intending to enter the Chinese market should look at the application of their products or services and if they would fit into the Chinese market. Businesses could also tap on existing government support platforms such as the Global Innovation Alliance by Enterprise Singapore.

During the Q&A segment, participants raised several questions pertaining to the expansion of Singapore businesses to China. As a closing remark, the panellists were asked to provide their advice - if they were overseas entrepreneurs looking to enter the Chinese market post-COVID-19.

  • Ms Gao continued to have strong faith in the online education sector. She anticipated huge growth potential in the EdTech market and believed that it would provide every child a learning opportunity that can help them work towards a better future.
  • For Mr Bo, he would focus on technology products that could be applied in the fields of medical, online education and online enterprise services. If he was an entrepreneur in the traditional industry, he would choose to bring his products or services into China and market them via digital platforms such as live streaming, which he anticipates would lead to greater revenue growth.
  • Having been in the retail industry for several years, Mr Lim would choose to invest in smart retail as he could see China taking the lead in this field. With rapid technology and digitalisation, he anticipated further advancements in China’s smart retail sector.

The session, which lasted for one hour and fifteen minutes, was well received by participants as they gathered insights on China’s “Two Sessions” and what it entailed for Singapore businesses.