Logo of Bayer Group is pictured outside a plant. [Photo provided to China Daily] China's recently-concluded two sessions have provided a new direction to the development of foreign companies in the country, top executives of leading multinational pharmaceutical companies said. The executives said they are particularly buoyed by the nation's sharpened focus on deeper reforms, wider opening-up, strengthened scientific and technological innovation and the expansion of domestic demand. According to the outline for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for economic and social development and long-range objectives through the year 2035, which was passed at the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress, advancing reform and opening up, pursuing innovation-driven development, creating a robust domestic market and fostering a new dual-circulation development pattern, will prioritize the country's development roadmap. "China was the only major economy in the world to achieve positive economic growth last year, and the Government Work Report reaffirmed that the country will pursue high-quality development as the general aim, advancing supply-side structural reform as the main task, and harnessing reform and innovation as the key source of momentum to meet the fundamental goal of satisfying people's growing needs for a better life," said Jiang Wei, president of the China branch of Bayer Group, a Germany-based company. "China has always been one of the most important markets for Bayer, and the company will continue to tap domestic market potential, give full play to its advantages in fields like healthcare and agriculture, and usher in a new period of development." Bayer is actively advancing its transition to new technologies through strategic acquisitions, win-win cooperation and product line restructuring, and has invested in new technologies in almost all of its business units. The China unit will continue its innovation and cooperation, to create a better life for people with high-quality products and solutions in healthcare and agricultural sectors, while making more contributions to the Healthy China Initiative and rural vitalization, he said. Rogier Janssens, managing director and general manager of Merck's healthcare business in China, said the country's pursuit of further opening-up will inject more vitality into the healthcare market. The Germany-based company signed a strategic cooperation agreement with State-owned Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holding Ltd for cooperation in new business model innovation, pipeline innovation and market expansion, with an eye on development in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The business environment in the region continues to improve, and a series of government policies and initiatives are set to unleash the region's potential for innovation, backed by world-class infrastructure, a highly developed industry chain, and leading research institutions, he said. "Merck is greatly inspired by China's remarkable progress in healthcare reform in recent years, which has made its public health system stronger than ever, with substantial improvements in the accessibility and affordability of medicines," he said. The company said its pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Nantong, Jiangsu province, has become Merck's second-largest pharmaceutical unit in the world. In addition, the company is initiating many research and development clinical trials in China, including on biliary tract cancer and cervical cancer. It is also working with multiple local partners, from internet giants, technology startups to local pharmaceutical distribution companies, to explore a new healthcare innovation ecosystem. Julio Gay-Ger, president and general manager of Lilly China, a unit of US-based pharmaceutical major Eli Lilly and Co, said multinational companies' long-term development confidence in China has been reinforced, and his company is determined to seize the opportunities for innovation and collaboration under the new dual-circulation development paradigm. The company is ready to work with partners across the industry to help introduce global innovative medicines into China at a faster pace, and has been actively seeking new opportunities to collaborate with innovative domestic pharmaceutical companies, he said.