Chinese firms ascend global rankings as economy transitions

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-24 09:57

BEIJING — Chinese firms continue to ascend global rankings as their competitiveness grows with the country's transitioning economy.

The Fortune Global 500 list is seeing a China boom this year, the renowned magazine said on its website.

Chinese firms filled an unprecedented 115 places on the 2017 list released earlier this week, only 17 places less than the top performer, the United States. and marking the 14th-straight-year China has increased its presence on the list.

The Chinese companies making the list were mainly involved in the internet, retail, finance, energy and property sectors.

China's State Grid and oil giant Sinopec Corp. were second and third, with revenue reaching $315 billion and $268 billion, respectively, in 2016.

Telecom giant Huawei rose from the 129th position last year to 83rd this year, beating all global peers in its sector.

The performance of companies can well mirror changes in economic conditions. The Chinese economy's steady expansion in 2016 and the first half of this year are conducive to the rise of large firms, according to Liu Qiao, director of Guanghua School of Management with Peking University.

China reported faster-than-expected 6.9 percent GDP growth in the first half of the year, setting the country on course to comfortably meet its 2017 target of about 6.5 percent.

Chinese companies might outnumber their US counterparts in the Fortune Global 500 rankings within the next three to five years as the world's second largest economy continues to expand, Liu estimated.

One bright spot is the rise of private companies. Ten Chinese firms hit the list for the first time, most of which are private companies, including Internet service giants Alibaba and Tencent.

These two Chinese internet giants, together with, share their places in the top six global Internet companies with their US counterparts.

This indicates that new growth engines are growing stronger in China, said Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research institute of Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Mergers and reorganizations also helped Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) lift global competitiveness by optimizing allocation of industrial resources, Bai pointed out.

A total of 48 centrally-owned SOEs made it into the list, including reorganized companies China Baowu Steel Group Corporation and CRRC Corporation.

China Minmetals Corporation rose from the 323th position last year to 120th this year after implementing strategic reorganization with Metallurgical Corporation of China in late 2015.

China has been encouraging mergers and reorganizations among the state sector and plans to reduce the number of central SOEs to under 100 as part of the ongoing reforms to improve efficiency of the companies.

However, Chinese companies still have much room for improvement in terms of profit capabilities.

The average return on assets (ROA) for the 109 listed Chinese companies stood at 1.65 percent, far lower than that of their US counterparts, according to Liu.

China's labor market, industrial structure, consumption demands and domestic and overseas economic conditions will undergo profound changes in the future, Liu said.

"Entrepreneurship and innovation will continue to change China's corporate sector and it's time for China to nurture great companies, which prioritize value creation over revenue expansion," Liu added.

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