APAC / Issue 2 2018 25 Success in Qingdao as International Firms Flock to the City g invested companies. In addition, Qingdao has a longstanding relationship with Germany the predates the establishment of the People’s Republic. The local populace has a high level of trust in the quality of products made in Germany, which, in turn, is now acting as a strong driver for and enhanced likelihood of success for the insurance companies that have chosen to enter the market. Qingdao has several unique advantages that will help in its goal of establishing a thriving international business environment The pilot zone has now attracted several professional wealth management firms that play a leading and exemplary role, including China’s first foreign- invested wealth management company and the third yuan- denominated international investment credit fund. A growing number of overseas financial institutions are opening branches in the zone, bringing the latest international wealth management models to China, while injecting new energy. The superior business environment, high-quality commercial services and the favorable government policies have convinced many foreign firms to open a branch in Qingdao. To date, 34 foreign- invested financial institutions have opted to set up shop in the city, accounting for 90 per cent of the foreign-invested financial institutions in the province. In 2017, Qingdao, home to the only wealth management-based comprehensive financial reform pilot zone in China, released an action plan including an optimized three-year cooperation model with the world’s top 500 companies and industry leaders, based on an enhancement of the opening up policy as well as new models for collaboration. As of the end of 2017, 264 projects, invested by 134 of the world’s top 500 companies, and 230 projects, invested by 140 of the top 500 domestic companies, were in progress towards completion. While consistently optimizing the model for the strategy of the city’s trade and other forms of economic cooperation with the rest of the world, Qingdao has now signed economic partnerships with 75 cities, provinces, states and commercial institutions across the globe and established seven Qingdao Industry and Commerce Centers worldwide, including in the US, Germany and Japan, further expanding its international network. The report from the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China calls for greatly relaxing control over market entry, deepening the opening up policy in the service industry, and protecting the legal interests of foreign companies. In 2018, Qingdao’s financial sector plans to shift its focus to innovation as the main driver to lead development, while continuing the build out of the wealth management pilot zone in tandem with the international wealth management center. At the same time, the financial sector has stated its commitment to three key tasks: serving the real economy, preventing and controlling financial risks and deepening financial reform, contributing to the establishment of Qingdao as a more vibrant and truly charismatic city.