Yan Bin is Chairman of the Reignwood Group and a member of the 13th National Committee of CPPCC. Here he talks about his role as an advisor to the Chinese government
As a CPPCC committee member, what are your thoughts on the way the Chinese government has handled COVID-19 so far?
The two sessions were delayed this year from March to May due to pandemic. When the Coronavirus disrupted our community at the beginning of 2020, the government took swift and resolute measures to quickly put the situation under control, showing its edge in responding to such a crisis.
The 5,000 years of Chinese history is one marked by myriad adversities and vicissitudes but the people always came out stronger. In 2018, I witnessed what the country had achieved after 40 years of dedicated reform and opening up. In 2020, we are not only fighting against Covid-19 but also eradicating poverty. Every one of us wants to contribute, as we know that the realisation of the country’s ambition of “building a moderately prosperous society in all respects” ultimately relies on every individual’s efforts to make a better life.
As Honorary President of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, how have ethnic Chinese overseas contributed to China’s success in fighting Covid-19?
I have been through the more than 40 years of Reform and Opening-up and witnessed how the market economy and businesses have blossomed in China during this period. Many overseas Chinese have devoted themselves to making contributions to their homeland over the years, and the overseas Chinese community always support their homeland in difficult times.
When the outbreak was confirmed, the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese (ACFROC) issued a written proposal for donations for the pandemic, and members of the federation were extremely resourceful in their response. The Reignwood Culture Foundation earmarked a fund for delivering supplies to the neediest places, and local Reignwood offices all acted quickly, donating beverages and providing supplies for front-line workers. Reignwood Aviation also volunteered to deliver urgent supplies to the then epicentre Wuhan.
What did you and other members propose to CPPCC for post-pandemic China?
Considering the current challenge of pandemic prevention and economic recovery, I included the following three points in my proposal to the government:
- To invest further in the health industry and advocate a healthy lifestyle. In a post-Covid-19 era, people will be more aware of the importance of their health and pay more attention to various aspects of health-related issues such as diet, lifestyle and their environment. China has included building wellness retreats into the national development strategy with the Healthy China Initiative 2030. The plan of building towns into wellness retreats not only offers opportunities for the health industry but also brings together tourism, recreation, wellbeing, healthcare, and elderly care. The wellness retreats and the business opportunities it creates offer a new economic growth point in a post-Covid-19 society.
- To explore the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine. Integrate TCM and Western medicine into prevention, treatment and recovery, while advocating scientific methods and a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, equip TCM with modern technology. For example, new techniques of plant extraction can be used in developing medicine based on herb extract, and new fermentation technology can also be adopted to improve the quality of TCM products.
- To leverage general aviation in emergency-responding and economic recovery. The general aviation can add to the capacity of civil aviation when there is a vital emergency. It can also meet the urgent demands of short-haul delivery, disaster relief, fire fighting, and field patrolling. For example, helicopters can be used to widely spread medicine for pestilence, extinguish regional fires, and fly ad-hoc delivery lines. It contributes to the national efforts in supply-side structural reform. China’s general aviation industry is still young and needs to catch up with international standards. Nevertheless, the industry is a growth point, with strategic implications and profound potential. If the government can support with favourable policies, tax reduction, financial subsidies, professional guidance, state-led purchases and the opening up of air space, the general aviation industry will bourgeon and become one of the key drivers of our post-Covid-19 growth.
The plan of building towns into wellness retreats not only offers opportunities for the health industry but also brings together tourism, recreation, wellbeing, healthcare, and elderly care.
How might the Reignwood business change or be affected in a post-COVID-19 world?
When Covid-19 became a global crisis, human health was not the only thing that took a hit – the global economy has felt the impact too. Now, as the conditions improve, countries have put return-to-work plans top of their agenda, to ensure they are not left behind in the economic race.
In China, we believe in a hands-on experience. As a businessman whose career spans more than 40 years – long enough to witness the transformation that the market economy brought to the country – I have always committed to the real economy where I can, in a bid to build strong businesses and contribute to society. As a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), I sometimes think about the bigger picture and as a result, feel it’s my responsibility to give back more and do more.
How do you think the hospitality and the travel industry will change?
The hospitality and travel industry will move towards higher quality travel in the future, where people will carefully choose their holidays or business travel to ensure it is done safely and in an environmentally-aware way. As I mentioned above, travel and wellness and other types of healthcare will become increasingly intertwined.
How is Britain currently regarded as an investment destination in China?
Premier Li Keqiang stressed in his Work Report that economic recovery is China’s top priority, with important roles for China’s private sector, the role of Chinese SMEs and the importance of foreign trade and investment.
Therefore, I believe the UK-China relationship will be even stronger with both countries working hard to create jobs and upgrade bilateral trade and investment.
We are all going through a difficult time where confidence has a higher value than gold. I have great faith in China’s economic recovery, not only because I believe the government is capable of leveraging the resilience of the socialist market economy, but also because I know our people are of indomitable spirit.