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Dear Members and Friends of FinnCham Beijing
Since 2020 a dominant topic in most conversation had been the pandemic. While most of the World started to come out of it in 2022 adopting to learn to live with Covid, China was still trying to stick to its Zero Covid. The end of 2022, however, changed all that and us in China are starting 2023 with an optimism unimageable just a couple of months earlier.
With all the Covid related restrictions, 2022 was not the easiest year for FinnCham Beijing. Planning of offline events became challenging and the amount of cancelled events was the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. But in the end, we made it and look to 2023 with excitement. This is also a good time to thank all of our members and partners for their support and active involvement in 2022!
Last year will remain in the history books as a year that changed the World. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and the war of aggression have shaken the global political landscape. This hostility has been widely condemned, and rightfully so, uniting for example the EU to stand for Ukraine. The impacts of the war are being felt everywhere. It has also changed the outlook of global business. This can be seen in executives’ views on global economy. Albeit highest point of pessimism seemed to be in the summer of 2022, in December the two highest perceived risks for global economy were still inflation and geographical instability. First time in 2 years, pandemic is no longer on the top of the list. (For more about views on global economy, checkout McKinsey & Company’s publication Economic conditions outlook during turbulent times, December 2022)
With all the discussions about lockdowns, it is easy to forget that 2022 was an important year for China. Beijing became the first city in the World to have hosted both Summer and Winter Olympics. The Winter Games in Beijing and Zhangjiakou were organized under special circumstances – the local organizers isolated the Games from the surroundings by implementing an “Olympic bubble” like never seen before. More history was made in October when Xi Jinping was appointed as CPC General Secretary for the third five-year term. This makes him the longest standing leader of China since Mao Zedong.
Nevertheless, when talking about 2022 and China, the focus is still on how the country kept sticking to Zero Covid with wide lockdowns. The measures taken throughout the year had huge impact on the World’s second largest economy, its growth basically had stopped halfway through the year. And we all remember the 2 months long Shanghai lockdown that affected logistical chains also globally. In November the race against Covid was getting hopeless and even some people started to get vocal in their demands to abandon Zero Covid. With the borders opening for international travel on January 8th, China went from strict measures and lockdowns to basically free and open in just 40 days – a bold move undoubtably. When writing this, however, it seems that the worse scenarios regarding people’s health situation due to the rapid opening have not realized. In December the World Bank estimated China’s GDP growth in 2022 to drop under 3 percent. Outlook for 2023 is much more optimistic with growth expectation of 4.3 percent as the economy opens up. However, this outlook remains full of risks ranging from renewed Covid measures to geopolitical tensions. (More on China 2023 Outlook, see World Bank’s China Economic Update December 2022)
The year 2023 in China feels much like a new start after some 3 years of restrictions and uncertainty. FinnCham Beijing looks forward to getting back to all activities, offline and online, with our members. We are also excited together with whole Team Finland to continue the work to support Finnish companies and developing the collaboration with the Embassy, Business Finland and other TF actors even further.
With these words I want to wish you all Success and Prosperity for the year 2023 and the Year of the Rabbit!
Greetings from Ambassador Leena-Kaisa Mikkola
It is a great pleasure for me to greet the members of the FinnCham in Beijing. I wish you all and your families a Happy, Successful and Prosperous Year 2023!
First of all, I wish to thank the members of the FinnCham in Beijing for the good cooperation over the past year. FinnCham is one of the closest partners of the Embassy when it comes to promoting Finnish business interests in China.
During my one and a half years in China, I have mentioned in many occasions that we live in exceptional times. Indeed, also last year was challenging in many different ways. Russian attack on Ukraine shaked the whole world, the very foundations of the European rules-based security order and our sense of security. Challenges continue. The world is faced with energy, food and climate crisis and the economic outlook for this year is also gloomy. In China, the strict Covid-19 restrictions continued until the very last weeks of the previous year, followed by a complete change and lifting of the restrictions.
Despite the challenges I want to be optimistic about the future. The coronavirus pandemic forced us as Team Finland actors to rethink and learn new ways to interact and work. We will cherish the good practices we have learned while we focus on our priority areas of Team Finland work in 2023: carbon reduction, industrial digitalization and consumer, food and health. It is important to know where we need to focus, even though Team Finland China continues to support all Finnish companies in the Chinese market.
It is my hope that after almost three years, we can now start to plan visits, face-to-face meetings, and many other forms of offline interaction once again. I believe I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that we have all waited for this.
In this changing environment sharing information and experiences is more important than ever. Listening to you – FinnCham members - continues to be one of our key tasks and we wish to strengthen this dialogue further. Close connections support us all when we together with other members of the Team Finland China network work to ensure that Finnish companies are provided with the best possible conditions for making the most of the opportunities in the Chinese market.
Bringing together the expertise of our entire Team Finland China network, we will continue to pursue our work for the benefit of Finland and Finnish businesses in the Chinese market. I promise that we will do our best to support you. I hope this year will bring us new opportunities and new hope.
Ambassador of Finland to China