From surgical robots to plant-based meat, exhibitors raced against time to showcase their new products, technologies and services at China's import expo, a platform for the country to share its development opportunities with the rest of the world.
The fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE), which concluded in Shanghai on Wednesday, attracted nearly 3,000 companies from 127 countries and regions.
Here are six buzzwords that offer a glimpse of the products of this year's CIIE and the enthusiasm of exhibitors to tap into the growing Chinese market.
Photo taken on Nov. 5, 2021 shows handbags printed with environmental-friendly ink at the Low-carbon Energy and Environmental Protection Special Exhibition Area of the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)
China has set the goals of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. Apart from unveiling a guiding document and an action plan, authorities are working on a number of sector- or industry-specific implementation plans, which will be rolled out in the fields of energy, industries, transport and urban and rural construction, among other areas.
In view of China's determination to reduce carbon emissions and the huge market opportunities coming with it, exhibitors had put "low carbon" high on their agenda of this year's CIIE.
"We've seen China's ambitions in peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality and hope to build new sustainable energy ecosystem with Chinese partners," said Jochen Eickholt, member of the executive board of Siemens Energy AG.
China's carbon goals bring new opportunities for enterprises, said Saw Choon Seong, China President of Air Products, an industrial gas company.
He said the company has accelerated the implementation of innovative solutions in areas of hydrogen for mobility, gasification as well as carbon capture and utilization.
In 2021, Air Products commissioned its first hydrogen fueling station in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2021 shows the booth of digital provider for cross-border supply at the Trade in Services Exhibition Area of the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)
Multinationals are also expanding their footprints in China's thriving digital economy, whose market scale rose 9.6 percent year on year to 5.4 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020, ranking second in the world, showed a report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.
With the deepening of China's digital transformation, more business models of digital economy will be rolled out and will inject vitality into the country's high-quality development, according to Visal Leng, president of Johnson Controls Asia Pacific.
The company rolled out OpenBlue Net Zero Buildings that can track various sustainability indicators of buildings in real time and generate data reports to hit decarbonization and renewable energy goals while optimizing building performance.
As a first-time CIIE participant, Rockwell Automation focuses on the innovation trends of digitalization, smart manufacturing and carbon neutrality, creating an intelligent "Small World" of real-life scenarios integrated physical models and digital technologies at the booth.
For instance, in the Small World, Rockwell Automation has built up a simulated cookie packaging line using its Digital Twins solutions. Visitors are welcomed to wear VR glasses to enter the factory in digitalized and virtual format, walking through the production lines, carrying boxes, operating systems, just as what the staff would do in a real factory.
China's digital fiat currency, or the e-CNY, also debuted at the expo. At the souvenir store of the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), where the CIIE was held, consumers could get a "30 off 50" discount when paying with the e-CNY.
Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2021 shows a robot arm equipped with compound eye imaging system at the Intelligent Industry & Information Technology Exhibition Area of the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
Intelligent products and solutions have always been popular among CIIE exhibitors. Complex and precise operations conducted by robots, from building houses to playing table tennis, amazed visitors.
Nearly everyone passing the national pavilion of Timor Leste is attracted by the fragrance of coffee and a Baymax-looking coffee-making robot swiftly moving its metallic arms.
"Timor Leste has the best Kopi Luwak of the world, and it should be matched with the best coffee-making techniques," said Bei Lei, the pavilion's executive curator. It takes the robot around three minutes to brew a cup of coffee, with the whole process remotely controllable.
Yamaha's two Disklavier Pianos also attracted a crowd of audience. Songs played by performers on one piano can be reproduced in real time with high precision on the other.
For the first time, the CIIE set up innovation incubation zones in the exhibition areas of technological equipment, automobile and healthcare. Innovative products related to artificial intelligence, healthcare technology and autopilot were displayed in the incubation zones.
A visitor experiences a product designed for better sleep at the Medical Equipment & Health Care Products Exhibition Area of the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2021. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
China's healthcare market is expanding, partly driven by increasing demand for healthy lifestyles since the COVID-19 outbreak. The size of China's healthcare industry is expected to reach 16 trillion yuan (about 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars) by 2030, according to a "Healthy China 2030" outline released by the Chinese government.
Exhibitors of this year's CIIE expressed high expectations on new market opportunities in the field, noting that the pandemic has changed consumer behavior as Chinese consumers attach unprecedented importance to both physical and mental health.
Various innovative healthcare products were displayed at the expo.
A flagship massage chair of OSIM International Pte Ltd can monitor health data such as stress level, heart age, heart rate and respiratory rate through AI Biosensors. It can also provide health assessments, recommend customized massage programs, and offer virtual reality and fragrance experience.
Iceland-based company ?ssur HF displayed prosthetics and non-implanted orthopedic devices with the aim of improving the life quality of physically-challenged people.
"I feel free to walk and go up and down stairs with ?ssur's hydraulic, single-axis knee joint. I wore them a week ago when walking on a tightrope at the Canton Tower," Sun Bianbian, silver medalist at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, said at the expo.
Products with the elements of ice and snow were widely exhibited, as enthusiasm for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics runs high. Global sporting goods retailer Decathlon set up a simulation ski resort in the exhibition center, U.S. footwear maker Skechers released its first ice and snow sportswear, and Italian company CRISPI, a first-time CIIE exhibitor, unveiled its limited-edition shoes designed for next year's Winter Olympics.
"The CIIE is the best platform for enterprises to get familiar with policies, share ideas, learn from each other's experiences and seek opportunities for win-win cooperations," said Megan Zhang, senior vice president of Branding and Communications, Skechers China.
A visitor takes photo of an artwork during the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai, Nov. 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Wu Huiwo)
China, a country with a population of over 1.4 billion, a middle-income group of more than 400 million people and annual imports of goods and services worth around 2.5 trillion dollars, shares immense market opportunities with other countries.
To satisfy the increasing cultural consumption demand of the middle-income population, cultural and art-related products were highlighted in this year's expo.
A newly-opened cultural relics and art section at the fourth CIIE has provided Chinese collectors an opportunity to relish globally-renowned masterpieces, with works of legendary artists such as Claude Monet, Zhang Daqian and Yayoi Kusama exhibited there.
The special section has attracted 20 overseas agencies from 11 countries and regions, including world-renowned auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's.
Rebecca Yang, Chairman of Christie's China, said that of the eight masterpieces they selected for the fourth CIIE, five can be purchased duty-free, which is a favorable policy for both collectors and the auction house.
Yang added that the CIIE has opened up new ideas for Christie's to explore innovation and development in China.
Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2021 shows a Mission H24 hydrogen racing car displayed at Michelin booth of the Automobile Exhibition Area of the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in east China's Shanghai. (Xinhua/Meng Tao)
Aiming for their future growth in China's market, overseas exhibitors introduced various products bearing futurist features during the fourth CIIE.
Michelin displayed a "zero emission" racing car, which is fully powered by hydrogen and thus only emits water vapor. The car has 46 percent sustainable materials on its tyres and is expected to debut in matches in 2025.
Participating in CIIE is an important moment for Michelin. The company is delighted to take part in a journey of innovation and technology during the expo, and hopes to provide more sustainable, innovative, connected and digital products and services to Chinese consumers, said Serge Lafon, Michelin Group's executive vice president.
"We've been in China for the last 30 years and we intend to be here for the next 30 years as well," said Lafon.
While addressing the opening ceremony of this year's CIIE, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country will firmly safeguard true multilateralism, share market opportunities with the rest of the world, promote high-standard opening-up and uphold the common interests of the world.
"President Xi's speech demonstrates China's determination to further open up to the outside world with high-quality development, and its sincere wish to share market opportunities, economic and trade benefits to promote coordinated development of the world," said Leon Wang, executive vice president of AstraZeneca.
"We are deeply encouraged by his remarks," Wang said.