A team of entrepreneurs from nearly 20 German companies recently visited Changchun, an industrial city in northeast China to seek business opportunities. The largest group of German firms which the city has received in the past decade highlights its strong attraction to foreign investors, as China pushes the Belt and Road Initiative and the national strategies of “Made-in-China 2025” and rejuvenating the old northeastern industrial base.

With advanced manufacturing industries, the spirit of inclusiveness and opening-up and the geographical advantage in northeast Asia, Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, has been a focus of foreign investors.

The Chinese central government has formulated a string of concrete measures and plans to back the rejuvenation of the northeastern region. “Among these, listing Changchun as a pilot city for the Made-in-China 2025 strategy is most attractive to foreign companies,” said Li Beiwei, a professor in policy and management at Jilin University.

High-speed train and automobile industries make Changchun a high-end manufacturing base in China.

The northeast China region boasts a solid industrial foundation. An upgrade of local software and technology will bring benefit in a short time, according to Frank Weight, technical director of Changchun Hexin Machinery Manufacturing Co. Ltd, a Sino-German joint venture.

Axel Schweitzer, CEO of Germany-based ALBA Group, said his company hoped to tap the large markets of other countries.

Schweitzer said China has made great progress in environmental protection thanks to strong measures from the central government. There are good business opportunities in waste recycling.

He said he hoped the company would sign a contract for practical cooperation with Changchun.

“After visiting Changchun, I feel there is great potential for water treatment in northeast China. We can do something in this regard,” said Markus Gerlach, representative of German company CNP-Technology Water and Biosolids GmbH.

Gerlach said his company was willing to carry out technological cooperation with Chinese companies at the same level.

“The Changchun municipal government has been improving its services to facilitate investment,” said Gao Shan, head of the Changchun commerce bureau.

Companies in Changchun have been deeply impressed by the government’s service improvement and higher efficiency in recent years.

The economy in northeast China shows signs of stable growth. In the first half of this year, Changchun’s gross domestic product grew 8 percent year-on-year, higher than the national growth rate.

Transport infrastructure has improved a lot. Expressways and high-speed railways in northeast China pass through Jilin province.

“We need more highly skilled workers in the future. We have established education cooperation systems in Changchun,” said Weight.