Foreign direct investment into China's manufacturing industry soared by 20.5 percent year-on-year to 33.11 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) in January of 2024, while that of high-tech manufacturing jumped 40.6 percent on a yearly basis, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
In the meantime, high-tech industries attracted 39.16 billion yuan in FDI, representing 34.7 percent of the total FDI utilized in China, said the ministry in a statement on Friday.
China saw the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises reach 4,588 in January, a year-on-year increase of 74.4 percent.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, FDI into the country in terms of actual use dropped 11.7 percent year-on-year to 112.71 billion yuan last month. However, China experienced a month-on-month growth rate of 20.4 percent in this field in January.
In terms of source countries, driven by large projects and other factors such as the base effect, investment growth from France and Sweden reached 25 times and 11 times, respectively in January. Meanwhile, FDI from Germany, Australia and Singapore into China surged by 211.8 percent, 186.1 percent and also by 77.1 percent, respectively.
With China continuing to promote high-quality economic development, foreign investment in the country is also undergoing continuous transformation and upgrading, said the head of the Commerce Ministry's department of foreign investment administration in another statement on Friday.
In terms of country of origin, investment from some developed economies is growing rapidly, with foreign investors remaining actively engaged in investing in China, said the official.
China's move to promote advancements in artificial intelligence technologies among its centrally-administered State-owned enterprises is likely to propel a new wave of industrialization, said analysts on Thursday.
These efforts are expected to have wide-ranging applications across various industries, including trade in services, manufacturing, energy and transportation, they said.
Zhang Yuzhuo, chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, or SASAC, said the government will push central SOEs to achieve better growth and play a greater role in the field of AI. He made the remarks at a meeting in Beijing on Monday.
The meeting emphasized that central SOEs should integrate the development of AI into their overall planning, actively promote industrial renewal, and accelerate the layout and development of the AI industry, information released by SASAC showed.
It was emphasized at the meeting that central SOEs should solidify the foundation for development by concentrating resources in the most needed and advantageous areas, speed up the construction of a number of intelligent computing centers, and better leverage the role of cross-central SOE collaborative innovation platforms.
Pan Helin, a researcher specializing in digital economy at Zhejiang University's International Business School in Haining, East China's Zhejiang province, said that the growth of central SOEs in the field of AI can enhance national competitiveness, and grasp technological discourse and initiative. Their abundant resources can inject vitality into the industry.
"At the same time, with the development of AI technology, central SOEs can also achieve transformation and upgrading, as well as reinforce their earnings strength," said Pan.
AI has been quickly integrated into various sectors. Earlier this month, United States-based AI research company OpenAI unveiled a new product model named Sora. It is able to generate "realistic" and "imaginative" 60-second videos based on brief text prompts.
Eager to maintain a key role for China in the global AI industry, the SASAC urged central SOEs to enhance demand-driven strategies, expedite support for key industries, establish high-quality multimodal datasets, and foster a comprehensive industrial ecosystem. This approach would encompass infrastructure, algorithm tools, intelligent platforms and solutions.
Central SOEs have already accelerated their layout in the field of AI.For instance, China United Network Communications Group Co, one of the country's three telecom giants, established an AI innovation center in Beijing in late January. The group views AI as a crucial strategic direction and is hastening its efforts to develop AI technologies.
SDIC Intelligence Co, a subsidiary of Beijing-headquartered State Development and Investment Group Co, announced on Wednesday that it will launch related products with multimodal AI capabilities based on market demand.
High-tech central SOEs are likely to increase their investments in the field of AI, including through mergers and acquisitions for key technologies, market share and talent, said Zhou Lisha, a researcher at the Institute for State-owned Enterprises of Tsinghua University.
She said this trend aligns with the global trend of businesses increasing their investments in the field of AI.
Central SOEs' investment in strategic emerging industries, including new energy, new materials, "new infrastructure" and biotechnology, totaled 2.18 trillion yuan ($303.22 billion) in 2023, up 32 percent year-on-year. Their research and development expenditure amounted to 1.1 trillion yuan, SASAC data showed.
Central SOEs will undertake specialized integration in areas like information communication, new energy and equipment manufacturing this year, said Li Bing, deputy secretary-general of the SASAC.
"This will explore new avenues, seize fresh opportunities and cultivate new advantages," said Li, adding that deepening strategic cooperation within the industrial chain ecosystem and accelerating the development level of the modern industrial system will be priorities for central SOEs in 2024.
In Africa, almost every fishing company is familiar with a particular "fishing king" from China, whose English name is Bill. Jiang Song, general manager of Wuhan Jianuo Industrial Co Ltd, has been specializing in the export of fishing net products used by anglers across the continent.
Jiang's family has been involved in the fishing net business for more than 30 years. His father was engaged in trade in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, many moons ago, and Jiang took over the job about 15 years ago and has since begun to expand into overseas markets.
"When I first came to Nigeria in 2011, I found prime angling areas in West Africa to be particularly large, but the fishing methods of local fishermen were still relatively primitive. They usually plunged into the water directly to catch fish with their hands or use hand-woven fishing nets," Jiang said. After visiting some local dealers, Jiang deemed that the fishing nets, which serve as a necessity for local fishermen, would enjoy huge market potential in West Africa.
He initially sold fishing nets overseas through middlemen in South Korea, and now he is riding the cross-border e-commerce wave to sell fishing nets directly to emerging markets such as West Africa and Central America.
In his eyes, channels for traditional Chinese foreign trade enterprises to obtain customers have changed in recent years, as digitalization has become a necessary option for small and medium-sized companies to reach more global shoppers and rev up sales.
"We usually obtained new clients through the Canton Fair and other exhibitions, or directly paid visits to overseas customers to launch promotional campaigns locally," Jiang said, while emphasizing that the fast-developing cross-border online marketplaces have opened up a new gateway to secure orders and boost business abroad.
At the end of 2021, Jiang registered with Alibaba.com — Chinese tech heavyweight Alibaba Group's online business-to-business marketplace for global wholesalers — to develop digital foreign trade.
His company's annual sales reached 15 million yuan ($2.1 million) within just two years. Jiang's firm has also made forays into Europe, the Middle East, Central America and Southeast Asia. Apart from traditional fishing net products, Jiang has expanded new categories such as fishing gear and fishing rods through the digitalized tools provided by Alibaba.com.
"At present, sales of these new products account for more than 30 percent of my company's total exports," Jiang said, adding that he wants to cultivate more distributors and regional agents in emerging markets via digital trade platforms, and expand the number of big clients to 50.
Jiang is among a large number of entrepreneurs who are capitalizing on the cross-border e-commerce sector to expand their footprint in emerging markets. Experts said digital trade is a new engine for China's efforts to build itself into an even more formidable trading nation, while cross-border e-commerce has played a vital role in stabilizing China's foreign trade amid downward economic pressure and external uncertainties.
China's cross-border e-commerce industry has seen robust growth in recent years, with the sector's import and export scale reaching 2.38 trillion yuan in 2023, up 15.6 percent year-on-year, the General Administration of Customs said. E-commerce exports stood at 1.83 trillion yuan, up nearly 19.6 percent on a yearly basis.
BEIJING -- The sales of new energy passenger cars in China accounted for nearly two-thirds of the world's total last year, industrial data showed.
Some 8.87 million units of such vehicles were sold in the Chinese market in 2023, up 37 percent from a year ago and making up 63.5 percent of the global sales, Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, said.
The penetration rate of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in China, or the proportion of NEVs in all car sales, rose to almost 30 percent in 2023.
The NEV market has witnessed robust expansion in China over the past years thanks to the country's accelerated push for green development and a rapidly growing auto market.
In 2023, electric passenger cars accounted for 69 percent of the country's sales, while plug-in hybrids gripped 31 percent.
As Chinese NEVs are also popular in the Southeast Asian and European markets, strong sales growth was seen in both the domestic market and exports, Cui said.
Earlier data showed that China's NEV exports in 2023 surged 77.6 percent year-on-year to 1.2 million units.
Decadeslong efforts for mastery in high-speed railways have made China, a latecomer to modern transport systems, a proud owner of the world's largest HSR network.
According to China State Railway Group Co Ltd, China's railway operator, as of the end of 2023, the total span of China's railway networks in operation exceeded 159,000 kilometers, including 45,000 km of HSR lines.
Involving many centrally administered State-owned enterprises, China's rail development continued to progress last year, with the launch of more lines aimed at fostering socioeconomic development within the country and beyond.
In the Yangtze River Delta region, HSR projects are fueling the rise of the nation's economic heartland, where Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui reported a combined GDP of over 30.5 trillion yuan ($4.24 trillion) last year.
The region now boasts a total railway track length of over 14,000 km, including 7,100 km of HSR lines.
The rise in transport demand in the region was sought to be met by new HSR lines like the second Shanghai-Nanjing intercity HSR and local projects including the Jinhua-Jiande and Hangzhou-Wenzhou HSR lines.
Utilizing its mastery in related cutting-edge technologies, China has been building railways complete with long-span bridges and tunnels in challenging geological and climatic conditions. It has expanded HSR lines to remote and ethnic minority areas to foster socioeconomic development.
For example, the massive Beipanjiang River railway arch is not only one of the world's highest railway bridges at 283 meters, but is also among the world's longest concrete arches ever built with a span of 445 meters. The crossing on the HSR line connecting Guiyang and Kunming is deemed a crown jewel of the bridge-building field.
HSR systems are symbolic of China's high-quality development, influencing all aspects of society. Last year, 3.68 billion railway passenger trips were made nationwide, a record, China Railway said.
In addition, the nation's expertise in building HSR systems has gone global. The latest example is the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway in Indonesia, officially launched in October. It is the first overseas HSR project fully utilizing Chinese railway systems, technology and industrial components.
With a design speed of 350 km per hour, the 142.3-km line substantially shortens the journey time between Indonesia's capital Jakarta and tourist city Bandung. Since its launch, it has handled more than 1 million passenger trips.
"High-speed railway construction can boost various industries through the industrial chain, which is significant for China now as it is faced with a tepid domestic demand. With abundant capital flowing into the infrastructure sector, major projects such as HSR lines will continue to see booming development in the first several months of this year," said Long Chaocan, an investment consultant with China Galaxy Securities Co Ltd.