CCTV: China corporate mood discussed by business leaders

By CCTV correspondent Martina Fuchs

The World Bank released its ranking of countries in terms of ease of doing business. China has improved slightly, but as the world's number 2 economy, it still has a long way to go. Now that 2014 is around the corner, it's time to ask Chinese companies their wish list for the new year.

Business is booming, but is China an easy place to do it?

That's part of a debate at The Economist's China Summit in Beijing on Thursday.

China only ranks 96th among the 185 countries and regions surveyed in the World Bank's 2014 Doing Business report, up slightly from the 99th place in 2013.

Although China is slowly moving up the ranks, talking to people here, there are still lots of things causing headaches. Mostly dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, and the tedious process of paying.

David Wei, former CEO of Fortune 500 company Ali Baba, says things will take time.

"This is the first generation for the government and for the local entrepreneurs to do a real business. So the legal framework may not be that transparent, the execution may not be perfect. But why do people still rank China? It is still the best opportunity in the world. You can make money, and you can see the changes, and we are changing. I have been doing business for more than 20 years in China. I think if you ask me if it's more difficult now, compared to 20 years ago, the answer is obviously no, it's getting easier and easier," Wei says.

At the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the Chinese government pledged to speed up reforms and reduce the state's role in the economy. This is expected to sweeten the mood in 2014.

"In the third plenum, the government has come out to say that while the state sector still remains a major pillar in the Chinese economy, the non-state sector will actually play a similarly important role. This is also the first time that the government has come out to give a truly legitimate status to the non-state enterprises in China," Edward Tse, Chairman for Greater China of Booz & Company, says.

The country's flagship carrier sees business flying high next year thanks to strong domestic demand and a rapid expansion to foreign destinations.

"Air China will face several challenges in 2014, including cost control and market competition. But in the meantime, we can see great opportunities as China is becoming more and more internationalized. A lot of foreign firms come to China, while plenty of Chinese go abroad, which means big business for us," Zhang Mao, Brand Manager of Air China, says.

But fact remains that marks are still low in the ease of kicking off a business. With start-ups mushrooming across the country, many regulatory and financial hurdles yet have to be removed to create a more business-friendly environment.