Resilient Supply Chains: Swire expects 'brighter future' in China as COVID-19 impact temporary
CGTN's Global Business

The Chinese arm of the international diversified conglomerate that runs businesses ranging from property, food, to airlines — John Swire & Sons China — sees the impact of COVID-19 as temporary and has espoused confidence in the Chinese market in the long run.

Zhang Zhuoping, chairman of John Swire and Sons China, said that he expects the Chinese economy to successfully emerge from the crisis, adding that he even expects a "brighter future" for the country.

"As a group, we've been around a long time and we're seeing some ups and downs, the SARS, financial crises, you know, a couple of economic cycles. We certainly abide by our ethos of investing for the longer term and the fact that we've been operating in China for 154 years, I think, is a testament to that," Zhang told CGTN. "We certainly think the impact of COVID-19 is temporary, and we are confident about China's future, and we are committed to do that." 

Zhang admitted that the economic and social impact of the virus has been tremendous for many, but also noted how there's been swift and decisive response by central and local governments to curb the spread of the virus in China. "There are still challenges remaining, but we are confident that China will come out successful by the end of it," he said.

Asked if Swire remained on the lookout for investment opportunities in the Chinese mainland, Zhang noted that the group has a "pretty strong and diverse portfolio in China" and is "constantly on the lookout for new opportunities be it in existing business or new areas."

"I don't think COVID-19 is going to change any of that," he said.

He highlighted several recent projects that the group has undertaken, including Swire Properties in Shanghai that is expected to complete Qiantan Taikoo Li by the end of 2020, Swire Coca-Cola that is building a new 600-million-yuan bottling plant to run within two years, as well as Swire's aircraft aviation engineering arm HAECO Xiamen, which recently unveiled their plan to relocate to a state-of-the-art facility at the new Xiamen airport by 2023. The latter, he said, represents the single largest investment by HAECO Group ever.

"So as you can see, we are committed and we are certainly expecting a brighter future here. We are committed to continue to offer high quality services, products and experiences to our customers in China. And we are confident about China's future," said Zhang, who also holds the positions of director of John Swire & Sons (HK) Limited, executive director of Swire Pacific Limited, and non-executive director of Cathay Pacific Airways Limited.

Meanwhile, commenting further on the outlook for its property division, Zhang said the company expects a downward revision in terms of rental income from retail properties in China in 2020. "But there are strong commitments, demands, from international retailers in particular and the F&B sectors for retail spaces in China for the longer term," he said.

(Cover: Taikoo Li Sanlitun, a shopping center in Sanlitun, Chaoyang District in Beijing, China. /VCG)