Making a beeline for new economy
BEIJING — As China’s “new economy” goes from strength to strength, more and more foreign firms are jumping in for a slice of the pie.
Shared bikes flood the city streets, diners pay for meals on their smartphones, electric cars whizz down the roads: in the rapidly shifting picture of China’s new economy, foreign companies are not absent.
Apple is betting big on this emerging market. Three weeks ago, its mobile payment service Apple Pay launched its largest-scale marketing campaign since entering China, offering perks including up to 50 percent discounts on purchases for a week.
Despite a much smaller presence than its Chinese rivals Alipay and WeChat Pay, the country’s massive mobile payment market is hard to ignore for the US tech giant.
The general merchandise volume of China’s third-party mobile payments reached 38 trillion yuan ($5.7 trillion) in 2016, up more than 200 percent from 2015, according to consultancy iResearch.
Apple’s interest is not just in mobile payments. Last year, it made an investment of $1 billion in Chinese on-demand taxi provider Didi Chuxing. This spring, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited bike-sharing startup Ofo during his China tour.
The sharing economy is taking off in China, so is its appeal to foreign investors. The country’s top bikesharing companies, Ofo and Mobike, have attracted investment from the United States, Japan, Singapore and elsewhere.
US home-sharing company Airbnb has said it plans to more than triple the size of its China workforce this year and double its investment in the market to better serve Chinese travelers.
E-commerce is another success story in China’s new economy. Online retail sales reached 3.1 trillion yuan in the first half of this year, a surge of 33.4 percent from a year earlier.
On Black Friday last year, sales at Amazon China doubled from a year earlier, according to a company report. The number of active users of its cross-border shopping service soared 22 times by December 2016 from two years earlier.
In a move to tap deeper into China’s internet economy, Amazon in June partnered with Migu, a China Mobile subsidiary with one of the country’ s largest mobile reading platforms, to launch a new Kindle exclusively for Chinese readers.
China’s spectacular growth used to be built on cheap manufacturing, lowend exports and smokestack industries. Now, with a wealthier domestic consumer base as well as technological progress, it is reconfiguring the economy for more consumption, more innovation and less pollution.
Official data also showed growing foreign interest in China’s new economy. In the first half of this year, foreign direct investment in China’s high-tech manufacturing and services rose 11.1 percent and 20.4 percent year-on-year, respectively.
The transition of China’s economy has brought about a number of very attractive sectors including high-tech, non-banking finance, life science and consumption.