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Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 17:14
TCL grows in step with the nation
By Fan Feifei
Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 17:14 By Fan Feifei

In this undated photo, TCL employees work at the company's television assembly line in Huizhou, Guangdong province. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Editor's Note: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. China Daily interviewed top executives of well-known multinational companies for their views on the country's socioeconomic development.

How has your company benefited from China's reform and opening-up policy?

China's reform and opening-up policy has created the perfect development environment for TCL in the past 40 years. From 1981 to the end of the 1980s, it was a stage for the enterprise's original capital accumulation.

Guangdong province was among the first provinces to launch reform and opening-up, which provided favorable conditions for TTK, TCL's predecessor. At that time, Chinese companies were starting from a very low foundation, with severe technological shortages.

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But it also meant there were huge business opportunities in the market if you looked for them. TCL got its first windfall from the tape manufacturing business, and then we expanded to the telephone sector. We finished the initial capital accumulation process through the telephone business.

In 1992, Deng Xiaoping's famous speech during his tour of southern China greatly accelerated China's reform and opening-up. Under the tide of developing the market economy, TCL signed a contract with the city government of Huizhou in Guangdong, and started a five-year pilot operation project.

At the same time, TCL acquired TV maker Luks Group and Melody TV in Henan province, gaining a leading position in the domestic market.

How has the reform and opening-up policy fueled your global expansion ambition?

Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, China's door has gradually opened wider.

At that time, TCL went public and continued its globalization strategy by acquiring French electronics company Thomson, and Alcatel's mobile phone business. The two big cross-border acquisitions quickly transformed TCL from a Chinese company into a global one.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative, which has attracted global attention. Relying on the spirit of the initiative, TCL has redrawn its globalization strategy.

By cooperating with enterprises from countries and regions involved in the BRI, TCL has rooted itself in the local markets. We have also rooted China's industry capacity, research and development, and service capacity in those local markets, bringing about new win-win opportunities for cooperation.

In May 2016, TCL signed a memorandum of understanding with ELARABY, the largest home appliance company in Egypt, to reach out to the African and Middle East markets.

In July 2016, TCL cooperated with SEMP, Brazil's leading household appliance manufacturer, to tap the South American household appliance market and to build up TCL's global industrial capacity.

How do you view China's role in the world today?

In the past 40 years, China's economy has made great progress. In the early stage of reform and opening-up, China mainly started with processing plants and joint ventures, and gradually became the world's factory. The growth of China's economy and its strength has attracted the attention of Western countries.

In line with the rising of China's international status, Chinese enterprises have made rapid progress in globalization and are playing an important role on the world stage

Li Dongsheng, Chairman and CEO, TCL Corp

In line with the rising of China's international status, Chinese enterprises have made rapid progress in globalization and are playing an important role on the world stage. For example, TCL achieved a revenue of 82.24 billion yuan (US$11.9 billion) in the first three quarters of 2018, and the overseas business accounted for 48.7 percent of the total.

The first three quarters of the year saw sales of 21.48 million TCL TV products (including commercial displays), with sales in overseas markets totaling 13.54 million units, up 34.5 percent year-on-year, ranking No 3 globally.

We are ramping up efforts to expand our presence in overseas markets. At present, we have more than 75,000 employees, 28 research and development institutions, 22 manufacturing bases, and sales offices in more than 80 countries and regions. Our business covers more than 160 countries and regions around the world.

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Apart from economic development, what progress in other fields have you witnessed in China in the past 40 years?

First, people's material and cultural lives have improved. Abundant material and cultural products have ensured market supply, meeting the major consumption demands of nearly 1.4 billion people in China.

Second, great achievements have been made in building a new socialist countryside, which has boosted the development of impoverished areas. Tens of millions of poor people's problems related to food and clothing have been solved, and economic development and social progress have been promoted in poor areas.

Third, the industrial structure is upgrading and developing. Since reform and opening-up launched, private enterprises have become the main force of technological innovation in China.

What will be the country's "calling card" in the coming years?

Looking forward, China will be at the center of the world stage, and Chinese companies will become global leaders in most industries in the next 10 to 20 years.

In the next decade, TCL will become a global leader in the industries it currently operates in, and will be a more competitive global enterprise. TCL will be a brand that is favored by consumers not only in China, but also in more countries and regions around the world. These are my goals.

fanfeifei@chinadaily.com.cn

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