China “Back On Track,” Overseas IPOs Poised To Rise

China’s economic growth and overseas fundraising are poised to rise this year as the country moves beyond the worst of the Covid pandemic, Zhonglu Group Vice Chairman George Wang said in an interview on Tuesday.

“What’s important now is that Covid has passed through China already, and things are back on track overall,” Wang said during a visit to New York. Wang’s father Wang Chaobin, who founded real estate holder Zhonglu more than 30 years ago, has an estimated fortune worth $1.9 billion on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List.

George Wang was among Chinese representatives to join a ceremony to ring the opening bell to mark the Lunar New Year at the Nasdaq on Jan. 25. Attendees included Robert H. McCooey, Nasdaq vice chairman, and Huang Ping, China’s consul general in New York.

Relations between the U.S. and China – the world’s No.1 and No. 2 economies – will be in the international spotlight in the coming days ahead of a visit to the mainland by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this weekend.

Wang said in the interview the Blinken visit and last year’s meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping suggests that both sides are looking for common ground at a time of geopolitical tension, particularly over Taiwan, and trade disputes. Edited interview excerpts follow.


Flannery: How do you size up the U.S.-China business relationship as the new year unfolds and just ahead of the Blinken visit to China this week?

Wang: There’s been a trade war, a tech war and competition on all fronts. It’s been a tough three years since Covid. The Biden-Xi meeting at the end of last year suggests both sides are ready to sit down and work toward the goal of finding common ground.

Flannery: Where is that common ground?

Wang: Healthcare is one area that China is willing to talk about. Renewable energy is another. We saw some policy coordination after the financial crisis in 2008-2009, and I would like to see some of that.

Flannery: You were at a celebration of the Lunar New Year at the Nasdaq last month. The U.S.-China disagreement about audits that had a big impact on listings has seemingly been resolved. Do you expect to see more Chinese companies raising capital here?

Wang: Wall Street is still the world’s leading capital market. I think that listings from China are ready to continue now. The celebration at the Chinese New Year (with the Nasdaq) points to that.

Flannery: Henan Province and the city of Zhengzhou made the international news because of the labor dispute at the iPhone factory there at the end of last year. You were in China and at that time; Zhonglu Group is headquartered in Zhengzhou. What’s your take on what happened?

Wang: It’s a factory with 300,000 people — like a city. It’s hard to manage. There were Covid and payment problems. Production is back to normal.

What’s important now is that Covid has passed through China already, and things are back on track overall. China got out of Covid in about a month or less. I was at a conference in Shanghai last month, People were asked to show if they have had Covid and I think nine of 10 already did. That is a positive sign for China’s economy.

Flannery: Where will the biggest growth drivers be this year in China?

Wang: Renewable energy and autos. There will be a fierce competition in the auto industry.

Flannery: How about the consumer in general?

Wang: We’ll see how the central government decides to support the economy. After the past three years, economies aren’t in the best shape anywhere. After the 2008-2009 financial crisis, countries had to work together. Let’s see if we can have a concerted effort now that’s similar. Otherwise, I don’t think a single country is going to make much of a difference.

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