Military police are in formation, holding submachine guns in front of their chests, and tanks are on stand-by as a line of dark limousines forms at a checkpoint. The exclusive island of Dongyu in the south of China has been entirely sealed off for the four-day Boao Forum, which brings together more than 1,000 decision-makers in Chinese politics and business each year. Right in the middle of it is Jan Rinnert, CEO of the Heraeus Group, one of Germany’s largest family-owned businesses.
Heraeus’s portfolio ranges from precious metals to medical components. But in China, the firm is deeply involved in that country’s vast internet expansion. Heraeus supplies the quartz glass used to manufacture telecommunication fibers, and the People’s Republic accounts for the lion’s share of that business. Heraeus sells silver paste to Chinese photovoltaic companies. It is also moving into the healthcare sector with bone cement and components for pacemakers. “China is of great importance to us,” says Mr. Rinnert, who is also the son-in-law of Jürgen Heraeus, chairman of the supervisory board.