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ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONS


Grand design: the Xiong’an New Area will be located around 100km south-west of Beijing


Pacific of Saint-Gobain, tells fDi that like many other foreign investors, Saint-Gobain came to China for the export market, but now its focus is the domestic market. Set against China’s net-zero pledge by 2060,


the Yangtze River Delta, which comprises Shanghaiandthe provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, has emerged as a green hub. At a symposium last year in Hefei, Anhui,


president Xi Jinping called for the foundations for the green development of the Yangtze River Delta to be strengthened, stressing the impor- tance of the river’s ecological protection. In this context, Mr Weber says that Saint-


Gobain, the majority of whose operations sit along the Yangtze river, is well placed to navi- gate the strict rules around government per- mits for land and energy to provide the local market with high-quality sustainablematerials for construction. “It’s difficult for [industrial investors] to set


upplants inChina’s green zones. Youneed to be very green, which we are,” he adds, pointing to the company’s roadmap to reduce water con- sumption, water discharge and carbon dioxide emissions on an annual basis.


Big banks, big tech, big green MinYe, associate professor of international rela- tions at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, says that “for urgent needs in Chinese localities, foreign investors are always embraced”. “Big banks, big tech and big green compa-


nies [still] have a lot of bargaining power, and want to go to those [centres] for that specific industry,” she says, whether that be the green zones of the Yangtze River Delta, the high-tech


August/September 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


manufacturing areas in Shenzhen or the finan- cial hubs of Shanghai and Hong Kong. One clear example of this is the multina-


tional banks moving into the Greater Bay Area, which unites nine cities in the southern prov- ince ofGuangdong withMacauandHongKong, in spite of the political turbulence in the latter city state. Citigroup is set to expand its operations in


Hong Kong by hiringupto 1700 newstaff to bet- ter serve the southern city cluster. Standard Chartered plans to hire 400 new staff this year, investing $26mby 2024 to revampits retail and wealthmanagement operations in the city, as it expands into themainland. Samir Subberwal, head of consumer, private


and business banking for Asia at Standard Chartered, tells fDi: “We see immense opportu- nities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and are fully committed to growing our business there.” Standard Chartered is preparing to launch


the Wealth Management Connect, which will connect the offshore Hong Kong market with the onshore mainland market. “Our aspiration is to provide a ‘One-Greater


Bay Area’ experience by deploying a ‘GBA ambassador’, establishing one GBA service cen- tre and one GBA hotline, and re-branding of international banking centres toGBAbranches, to serve cross-border GBA clients,” he says. With a live debate running in China cur-


rently over the advantages of economic growth versus the disadvantages of losing rural China, Mr Mao says that there is one thing that is dif- ficult to argue with: “The bigger these cities become, the more productive they are, and the higher the incomes of their inhabitants who are willing to spend.”■


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