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The sustainability imperative is growing in momentum and international companies are at the forefront of introducing new ideas.

When I came to China in 1987, the Chinese side would ask us - and all foreign businessmen at the time -  a key question: what do you bring to China?

It was about showing legitimacy and how you could help China develop. 

At the same time, Western companies were asking themselves what should be their China strategy. They wondered if China's growth would be sustainable, whether to invest or to hire.  

During meetings between the two side, foreign companies would typically say they bring technology, know-how, funding, management expertise or good products. The Chinese Government thought it over, then decided these are good reasons to let them in and do business. 

From the 1990s, when that door opened, Southern China became the manufacturing center of the world. It began in a frantic and dynamic way with things just happening. 

If you fast forward until today, that same question is always there: what do you bring to China?

But the answer has changed. It’s not about how much finance, know-how or expertise companies bring from outside anymore. China has acquired most of what it needs in those areas, sometimes even surpassing the West.

The answer today is more about what sustainability measures companies bring to help China keep its growth path. This growth is essential for China but also for the whole world. 

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