Invest China

China is growing old at an alarming rate, at an inopportune time. Projections estimate China’s elderly population will be larger than that of the United States by 2020, the surge coming at a time when family ties are weakening as urbanisation and all that it represents shifts the family dynamic. 

In the past decade, Shanghai has emerged as the centre of fashion design in China, Beijing as the heart of architecture and, more recently, Shenzhen as the home of graphic design. By giving these industrial powerhouses a sense of creative purpose, the central government hopes to show the world that China can innovate rather than merely imitate.

Known primarily as a hub of manufacturing, China has diversified into other sectors in an effort to maintain the country’s strong GDP growth and attract further investment. Whereas factories were once the focus of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, services and people-focused sectors are now attracting greater attention from overseas investors.

With solar energy production costs continuing to fall, the market is experiencing what many analysts are calling a boom. In many parts of the world, solar power is now cheaper than diesel oil, gas, coal or nuclear energy.

China remains a magnet for international workers from near and far, but the daily lives, motivations and compensation packages of today’s expatriate workers are all in flux.

For years, China has grown fat on a diet of low-cost manufacturing, exports, and investment, an economic regimen that pushed the country closer to becoming an economic powerhouse. Yet, today, its GDP growth rate “languishes” at 7.4 per cent, a number that would satisfy most countries. With Premier Li Keqiang saying at the start of China’s annual National People’s Congress meeting on March 4 that China would aim to grow its economy at 7 per cent, it is clear that the economic slowdown in China has begun.

Over the past few weeks, much has been made of the United States economy's resurgence and the mainland's slowing economic growth. Analysts say that future investment opportunities could come from developed markets such as the US that are seeing a rebound in their economic fortunes, rather than from China.

Grassroots hardware innovators from around the world have been drawn to Shenzhen for one reason: its capacity to produce. Prototypes and products are easier and cheaper to develop and roll out here than anywhere else on the planet, and a vibrant international community of hardware innovators have formed around the city’s electronics markets, startup incubators, and factories.

In January, Premier Li Keqiang went on a three-day inspection tour of Guangdong province under the banner of promoting reform and structural adjustment to counteract a slowing export market and a stagnating domestic economy. Along with visiting Qianhai Webank, the mainland's first virtual bank; Huawei Technologies, a rising domestic tech giant; and the new Guangdong Free Trade Zone, the premier also made two stops at less typical locations: the Chaihuo makerspace and Seeed Studios, a hardware development platform for makers.

In 2014, there were 649 million internet users on mainland China, and 557 million of those were mobile users. Mobile app use is also growing extremely quickly across the border. Mobile games and messaging apps are making the biggest noise, with WeChat one of the most popular. Almost all mainland mobile users are using a messaging app. Mobile travel booking apps are the fastest-growing category, with their usage increasing 194.6 per cent.

For years, China’s sports industry has been dominated by basketball, tennis and badminton, driven by homegrown stars such as Yao Ming and Li Na and strong leagues. Yet the most lucrative sport of all – football – has lagged behind.

China has long been seen as the final frontier of new customers for Western companies, a place where the commercial wells are deep – 1.35 billion people deep, to be precise.

Jack Ma, founder and chairman of the Alibaba Group, is the face of China’s exploding e-commerce industry. But beneath the glittering surface of rock-star initial public offerings on Wall Street is a group of young Chinese, mostly men, whose work is essential to the industry’s success.

Sales of electric vehicles across China are set to rise as Tesla Motors, a California-based EV design and manufacturing corporation, continues its march, as environmentally aware electric-vehicle (EV) consumers begin to reap government subsidies.

Shenzhen is known as the Silicon Valley of China for good reason: tech giants Tencent, BYD, Huawei and ZTE have their headquarters there, and the infrastructure, investment and government support enables the city in the Pearl River Delta to generate more hi-tech enterprises.

Beijing legalised the sale of prescription drugs through online platforms in January. It is the next phase in a package designed to break hospitals’ grip over the country’s 1 trillion yuan (HK$1.24 trillion) pharmaceutical market, which has been beset by corruption and price manipulation.

China is spending heavily to nurture start-up companies, as the central government hopes that the surge of money supporting private entrepreneurs can help to generate new growth opportunities for the slowing economy.