Entrepreneurship, consumption will propel China's growth: Lenovo founder

Mr Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Lenovo Group, speaks at an event organised by Lien Ying Chow Legacy Fellowship and Business China at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel on Thursday. SPH PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Mr Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Lenovo Group, speaks at an event organised by Lien Ying Chow Legacy Fellowship and Business China at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel on Thursday. SPH PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - China's economy is facing pressure as it undergoes a transition, but there are still areas with opportunities for growth, said Mr Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Chinese tech giant Lenovo.

Mr Liu, who was here on Thursday to give a talk detailing his entrepreneurial journey in growing Lenovo, also expressed bullishness about China's entrepreneurial streak saying this will drive China's growth. "Entrepreneurship is not just a slogan" in China, he said pointing to the success of Beijing's Zhong guan cun, China's equivalent of Silicon Valley.

Speaking in Mandarin Chinese, Mr Liu said entreprenuership alongwith consumption and outbound investment wll provide a lifeline to propel China's growth.

"Strong consumption demand has not been fully satisfied and has room to grow," he said about China which has a big market. Secondly, China's outbound investment is backed by its companies having "competitive advantages in capital and industry knowledge."

This can provide a lifeline to propel China's growth, he said.

The chairman of Legend Holdings also spoke before a live audience of about 1000 people at the Mandarin Orchard hotel, organised by Lien Ying Chow Legacy Fellowship and Business China.

Speaking at this year's Lien Distinguished Fellow, he shared a lively account of growing and internationalising Lenovo, now the world's top PC maker by market share. He recounted trying to get a permit to start manufacturing Lenovo-branded computers in China before the country opened up.

He also recounted his difficulties when trying to acquire IBM's PC business. He told the audience that then, he had gone to give a speech at Peking University's executive MBA class and discussed the acquisition, asking a class of 90 to raise their hands if they thought it was a good idea. 

"Three hands were raised, and I realised that two were Lenovo staff," he recounted to laughter.

Nevertheless, he persevered and went through with the acquisition. Lenovo's blockbuster purchase of IBM's PC business in 2004 is still considered a case study of successful post-merger integration.

The Lien Ying Chow fellowship, a partnership between NTU and the Lien Foundation, was established in 2007 and aims to support leaders in Singapore and China in promoting mutual development of both countries through research and exchange. With an initial funding of S$20million, it has supported 86 Lien fellows whom are top government officials and business leaders in China and Singapore.

Other distinguished fellows include China's former finance minister, Mr Xiang Huaicheng.