China is now neck and neck with the U.S. in Fortune Global 500 members, reflecting a shift in economic power that lies at the heart of trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.
This year’s ranking of the world’s 500 largest businesses by year-earlier revenue includes 119 Chinese companies, up from 111 in 2018. U.S. enterprises declined to 121 from 126. Two decades ago, Chinese entries numbered in the single digits. So “though China has a stronger presence near the bottom of the roster than the top, it’s clear where the momentum is,” wrote Clifton Leaf, editor-in-chief of Fortune magazine.
Among the 39 Chinese companies in this year’s top 150, all but five are state-owned enterprises. They include banks, automakers, and such energy giants as Sinopec Group, China National Petroleum and State Grid, which have solidified their positions in the top 10.
Major Chinese major technology companies are rapidly moving up the ladder, with Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings climbing 118 and 94 rungs to No. 182 and No. 237. Hong Kong-listed Xiaomi debuted on the list at No. 468.
These patterns highlight core issues underlying the Sino-American trade war: China’s rising economic prowess, a technology race where it is rapidly catching up, and a clash of economic paradigms. (more…)