China is backing globalization for one very simple reason, according to Allianz CEO Oliver Bäte: The country absolutely needs it.
The financial services giant's CEO spoke with CNBC Saturday on the sidelines of the China Development Forum in Beijing, and he addressed the apparent rise of China as free trade's global champion — at least rhetorically.
"The interesting thing is it's not because people are nice. People are rational and intelligent: They need," Bäte said. "As China is moving to an economy that more and more depends on global trade in an active role — not just as an exporter of pieces, but of goods and services — and as they go into other countries, it gets a lot more dangerous because the country doesn't have the experience and how to operate in different cultures and other environments."
"As they move forward they need partners because, when the dragon shows up in a small country or vis a vis a small company they want to invest in, people get scared," he said. "And I think they will look to partners to help them on that journey, while we, in other parts of the world are trying to blame globalization for problems that have nothing to do with globalization. They're just due to bad management."
As for China's economic management, Bäte struck a strongly bullish note on the business prospects within Asia's largest economy.
"This market is really, really exciting because not just is the economy growing still 6.5 percent - 7 percent, the insurance industry is just starting," he said. "Despite the fact that it has been growing very very strongly and even in some provinces you had 200 billion in premia, it's going to grow double digits and it's going to grow faster as people amass enough wealth to start now to protect it."