The theme of the 2014 meeting is ‘The Reshaping of the World’. How will this transformation influence the global and regional economies, and social changes?
Cassie: The reshaping of the world economic order is unprecedented in its speed and scale. At PwC, we've identified five megatrends that will affect our future and the future of our clients over the next decade. As the economic centre of gravity continues to shift to the East, we're seeing the emergence of more mega cities as the new frontiers of economic power. Demographic shifts and rapid urbanisation are already transforming the local and regional infrastructure as well as the way consumers spend their money. At the same time, rapid industrialisation comes at an environmental cost. Climate change is causing extreme weather patterns in some parts of the world and the growing population is putting a stretch on already scarce resources. We're also heading into a digital future, if it isn't already here. All of these changes are affecting how businesses are run and how people live their lives.
China's economic ascendancy is the envy of the world. How successful has China been in transforming itself and in extension, the global economy?
Cassie: Few economic success stories have emerged as quickly as China's has. In the last 30 years, China has lifted more than 600 million of its people out of extreme poverty. The 2013 Fortune Global 500 list has 89 Chinese companies on its list with three in the top ten. China has also transformed itself from the ‘factory of the world’ to the ‘market of the world’. It has also made great effort to integrate with the global economy through the internationalisation of Chinese companies and numerous cross-border mergers and acquisitions, both inbound and outbound.
It's especially important to note the recent reform agenda set at the 3rd Plenary Session which shows the firm commitment by China’s new leadership to continuous reform. The aim is to improve the efficiency of the Chinese economy, and the sustainability and quality of its growth, by for example reducing government intervention in economic affairs and allowing for market-based pricing of resources. GDP growth is also de-emphasised as a performance measurement criterion for local government, with focus shifting to other areas such as environmental impact, reduction of industry overcapacity and debt levels. These reform measurements will not only benefit China’s own economy, but also have a positive impact on many countries and industries.
For a commentary on China's reform agenda and its impact on potential investors and multinational corporations operating in China, take a look at China's Third Plenary Session - New roadmap for achieving the China dream.
How can China use its voice to effect change globally?
Cassie: The Chinese government is increasingly involved in shaping and participating in the global economic and geopolitical agenda. China and the World Bank set up a knowledge hub a year ago to share its success story in reducing its poverty levels. China’s aid to Africa in the past two decades has also helped the continent tremendously, gaining recognition by international communities. Given the size of China’s economy and its close link with the rest of the world, China now plays an important role in international organisations and government dialogues. The frequent bilateral government visits also contribute to international debates and global solutions on topics such as economic growth and sustainability.