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Image of Photo of Dr Lu Yuebing

Rise of China via opening up: a practitioner's experience

The China Forum seminar on Thursday 16 May 2024 was given by Dr (Honorary Senior Research Fellow, The Department of Strategy and International Business, University of Birmingham; Chairman of the Board, Air Liquide (China) Holding Co. Ltd; Venture Partner, B Capital).

Dr Lu Yuebings seminar drew on his wide experience in senior management positions at leading multinational companies (MNCs) including Caterpillar, Alstom, Ford Motor and Air Liquide. His lecture analysed the tremendous changes that have taken place in China in the era of reform and opening-up. He divided China's development into three stages. The first one was from 1978 to 2000. China resumed the college entrance examination in 1978, which started the era of knowledge changes ones destiny in life&Բ;(֪ʶı) for millions of Chinese including Dr Lu himself. He was able to study in Tsinghua University and then learnt English, which paved the way for him to later act as a bridge between MNCs and the Chinese economy. The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the CCP held in 1978 symbolised the nations move away from political struggle towards economic development. Thereafter, foreign investment poured into China, alongside gradual, experimental system reform. During the following era, China achieved unprecedented economic development.

The second stage was between 2001 and 2014, was marked by Chinas accession to the WTO, accompanied by high growth, deepening reform and expansion of opening up. The Chinese economy was driven by the inter-weaving of three inter-connected elements: development, reform and opening up. They formed a virtuous, mutually-reinforcing circle: opening-up pushed forward reform, reform promoted development and development reinforced opening-up through stimulating inflows of foreign investment. Taking his own experience with multinational companies as an example, Dr Lu examined the way in which MNCs helped China to establish complete industrial chains and facilitated regional development. He contrasted the development path of China's automobile, construction equipment, high-speed rail, industrial gases and power equipment industries, in order to illuminate the role of Chinas industrial policies in promoting industrial upgrading and technological innovation.

After 2014, the international environment changed dramatically. The new cold war brought issues of national security to the foreground. The new international relations environment has wide implications for Chinas international trade, technology transfer and the international expansion of Chinese firms. This poses a profound challenge for the development pattern based on a virtuous circle of development, reform and opening-up. In the midst of this challenging environment, China is engaged in finding a path to achieve high quality development that is socially and environmentally sustainable. Dr Lu ended his lecture by emphasizing that Chinese people are motivated and entrepreneurial, which is a major asset in the face of the changed international environment.

The following issues were discussed in Q&A: the suitability of the phrase network of interactions to describe the model at the heart of the seminar; the extent to which the changed international relations environment since 2014 has thrown sand into the machine of the virtuous circle of development; policy barriers to MNCs acquiring indigenous firms; the contribution of technology transfer to Chinas development; the balance between efficiency and equity in Chinas development strategy; the danger of geo-political tensions producing a vicious circle of development for the whole world, through a negative impact upon scientific and technical progress; mechanisms through which China might avoid a vicious circle of development; and the possibility for building an alternative to the western-led world order.

Dr Lu is Chairman of the Board at Air Liquide (China) Holding Company, Chairman of Climate Capital Group and venture partner of B Capital.

Previously, he was Vice Chairman of China Funds at Siguler Guff and a member of the Investment Committee for the BRIC Opportunities Funds.  As a senior member of the firm's investment staff, he was in charge of Siguler Guff's business development activities in China and advises on the firm's overall emerging markets investment strategy. Dr Lu was the advisory board member of leading Private Equity firms funds, including Hony Capital, New Horizons, CITIC PE, CICC PE, and Boyu Capital.

Dr Lu was the Deputy President and Chief Investment Officer of China Jianyin Investment Limited, the domestic investment arm of China Investment Corporation (CIC). Prior to this, he was a managing director and China CEO at Climate Change Capital, where he led the investments in climate and low carbon technologies, projects and carbon assets in wind/solar/hydro power, biomass, low concentration methane utilization, energy efficiency.

Before his career in the above financial institutions, Dr Lu was vice president of Alstom (China) Investment Co., Ltd., vice president of Ford Motor (China) Investment Co. Ltd., and BD general manager of Caterpillar (China) Investment Co., Ltd. leading the government/industrial partnerships and business development in the fields of construction machinery, automobile, power equipment and high speed train. Earlier in his career, Dr Lu was a research fellow in Development Research Center of the State Council.

Dr Lu is honorary senior research fellow of the Business School of Birmingham University, Director of the Center for Global Climate Innovation and Governance in UIBE, Chairman of MNC 50 Carbon Neutrality Forum, and Vice President of Beijing Green Finance Association. He has published 6 books on corporate strategy, corporate governance, private equity and venture capital. He is a thought leader and frequent speaker in climate and sustainability.

He holds a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from Tsinghua University and a PhD in Economics from University of Cambridge.