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The 2023 Forbes China Jiefangbei Forum: Chongqing's Rising Global Competitiveness and Urban Innovation

By PRNEWSWIRE

Published : Dec. 11, 2023 - 10:40

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CHONGQING, China, Dec. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2023 Forbes China Jiefangbei Forum convened on November 28th at InterContinental Chongqing Raffles City in Chongqing's Yuzhong District. Jointly hosted by Forbes China Group, the Chongqing Municipal Commission of Commerce, and the People's Government of Yuzhong District, the theme of the forum was to improve the global competitiveness and international appeal of the Jiefangbei Central Business District (CBD), one of the city's key economic and financial hubs. This event aligned closely with the city's roadmap for sustainable economic growth. 

Guozhi Zhang, Vice Mayor of Chongqing's Municipal People's Government, delivered an opening remark. She highlighted the CBD's role as a hallmark of a modern metropolis and its significant contribution to the dynamic expansion of a city's contemporary industry. Chongqing has been prioritizing the comprehensive development of its "Two Rivers and Four Banks" central urban area, by focusing on global integration, environmental sustainability, technological innovation, and cultural advancement.

Maojun Huang, Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Yuzhong District Committee, described Jiefangbei as one of Chongqing's landmark areas, noting its status as one of the zones with the densest concentration of high-end industries, the most dynamic economic activities, and the most comprehensive support facilities. He highlighted the district's commitment to transforming Jiefangbie into a world-renowned business hub, aiming to establish it as a leading destination for international businesses and a center for influential brands.

Frankie Chang, President of Forbes China Group (FCG) asserted that the success of the Jiefangbei CBD is inseparably linked to Chongqing's strategic vision for sustainable economic growth and development. He said it was an honor for FCG to host such an assembly of top-level executives and representatives from premier international luxury brands, commercial property developers, financial and investment institutions, globally renowned shopping districts, and the top five Chinese banks, as well as experts from the world's most famous CBDs.

Subsequently, Leira Shan, Director of Commercial Selection at Forbes China, took the stage to present the 2023 Forbes China CBD Competitiveness Selection Result. She provided an insightful analysis of the significant progress being made by Chinese cities, saying that the country's CBDs are getting more international recognition through improvements in design, functionality, and infrastructure. The release of the ranking, she explained, was intended to establish a fresh standard for evaluating CBDs, showcasing the distinct advantages of China's CBDs, and offering a useful reference for entrepreneurs, investors, and startups.

Dong Xie, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Yuzhong District Committee and Governor of Yuzhong District Government, provided an overview of Yuzhong District's economic and cultural evolution, its current status, and plans for future development. He depicted Yuzhong District as the historic bedrock and economic powerhouse of Chongqing, and detailed the strategy to elevate the district's multifaceted role, advance industry standards, improve quality of life, optimize service levels, and amplify brand recognition.

Jie Li, Vice President of the Price Association of China, Director of the Luxury Brand Research Centre at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and co-founder of the China Europe International Business School and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, gave a keynote presentation titled "Luxury Industry and CBD Development Prospects in China". He shared insights about the business models of luxury brands, highlighting their preference for achieving sales through physical storefronts in the shopping districts and affluent neighborhoods of the world's capitals and major urban hubs, as opposed to online platforms.

Guangbin Zhao, Senior Economist at PwC, then delivered a keynote speech titled "China's Economic Outlook and Consumption Trends in 2024". He pointed out that despite the deceleration of global economic growth, China is poised to face numerous opportunities as it enters a phase of recovery. He explained that with the resurgence of consumer spending and the implementation of additional reform initiatives, the country's economy is well-positioned for significant advancement.

Lim Hong Kian, CEO of Surbana Jurong Group for North Asia, shared his insights on "Synergistic Development of Urban Complexes and CBDs: Seamless Integration of Livability and Business". He offered a series of recommendations aimed at enhancing urban and industrial development, which included advancing city-industry integration to support urban and industrial growth, embedding zero carbon and sustainability principles in the development of urban complexes and CBDs, enhancing operational efficiency and strengthening urban management through digital transformation, and leveraging available resources to create a conducive living and working environment.

Mr. Lim's presentation was followed by a roundtable discussion themed "Creating Diversified International CBDs". Moderated by Zijun Guan, Director of New Media Content at Forbes China Group, the session was attended by Mark Shaw, Chairman of the Orchard Road Business Association, Duke Zhen, Managing Director and Head of Retail Services at Cushman & Wakefield China, Alvin Sun, an acclaimed creative director and fashion director, and Xiaoguang Fan, Co-Founder and CEO of V MUSE.

Mr. Shaw said a well-developed, top-tier CBD should offer attributes that invite ongoing exploration, not merely serve as an aggregation of shopping centers and streets. He described it as a comprehensive network encompassing social and digital hubs, zones that preserve and showcase a city's heritage alongside and areas designed for brand displays, exemplified by Chongqing's notable culinary scene.

Mr. Zhen said the development of a CBD should begin with the enhancement of its physical infrastructure, and in order to effectively improve the infrastructure, the policies should be tailored to the specific needs of the area. He recommended that the policies should focus on the physical and commercial renovation of buildings within the CBD, and the outdated architectural spaces need to be updated to meet the modern usage requirements.

Mr. Sun said CBDs are significant functional zones that extend beyond consumer and office use, and there are more spaces for artists and creative professionals, such as workspaces, exhibition areas, and venues for collaboration and networking.

Mr. Fan said the development of an international and diverse CBD is intrinsically linked to the cultivation of soft power. Much like a jewelry brand, there is a necessity to engage with more complex challenges through the lens of soft power, and CBDs must similarly explore the dynamics between people and urban spaces.

The afternoon session of the forum commenced with a keynote by Jack Wu, Managing Director of Dunhill China, on "How Luxury Brands and High-end Shopping Districts Can Empower Each Other to Achieve Resilient Growth Together." Mr. Wu detailed Dunhill's evolutionary journey, its distinctive brand features and strategic orientation. He emphasized the importance for both brands and retail hubs to identify their unique identity – what is often referred to as their DNA, as well as to analyze their customer base and constantly refine their market segmentation, a process crucial for achieving symbiotic success between brands and business districts.

Then there was a fireside chat with Graham Earnshaw, Chief Strategy Officer of FCG, and Vincenzo Carrieri, Asia Pacific Regional Director at Canali Far East. Mr. Earnshaw emphasized that Forbes China has always regarded CBDs as hubs of value, capital, talent and brands, and he shared his observations on Chongqing's growth trajectory over the years and conveyed his satisfaction with the city's current level of progress.

Mr. Carrieri said the preferences of Chinese consumers have undergone significant transformation over the past ten years, and they have become increasingly sophisticated and discerning. He emphasized that luxury brands must not only focus on marketing strategies, but also prioritize the quality of the product itself, and they should foster closer collaborations with local governments and shopping centers.

The fireside chat was followed by a series of case studies presentations on some of the world's most successful business districts, and the presenters included Steven Goh, Executive Director of Orchard Road Business Association; Yuqiang Wang, Director of L'Avenue International Holidings Limited; Zhaofeng Le, Deputy Director of the Management Committee of Chunxi Road Fashion and Vitality Zone in Jinjiang District, Chengdu; and Jia Mi, Director of the Management Committee of the Jiefangbei CBD in Chongqing.

Following the session, the management committees of the Jiefangbei CBD and Chengdu Jinjiang District's Chunxi Road Fashion and Vitality Zone hosted a signing ceremony formalizing the initiative to jointly develop a series of world-class business districts in the two cities, and FCG president Frankie Chang took the stage to present certificates of appreciation to the listees of the 2023 Forbes China CBD Competitiveness Selection.

Finally, executives from top brands, predominantly in international logistics, commercial real estate, luxury hotels, and department store sectors, engaged in a business matchmaking session, which marked the successful conclusion of the forum.