Apple’s crowning as China’s largest smartphone vendor in 2023 shows market’s huge draw for US multinationals

US tech company Apple for the first time became the largest smartphone vendor-maker in China by shipment last year, with market share hitting a record 17.3 percent, according to an industry report. Apple's crowning also adds to a number of success stories of US companies that have entered the Chinese market and high-profile visits by US CEOs since last year, which observers said all underscore the huge draw of China's rapidly-growing consumer market.

China's status as one of the world's most appealing foreign investment destinations is set to attract more US firms to scale up investment despite geopolitical noises and uncertainties hanging over bilateral relations, observers said. It also serves as a stern reminder to Washington that cooperation - which brings substantial benefits to companies in both countries - should be the mainstream of bilateral relations, rather than instigating tensions and divisions.

According to a report issued by IDC, Apple's success in the smartphone business was partly driven by its price promotions in the third-market channel. 

Honor, a spin-off of Chinese company Huawei, ranked second with a 16.8 percent market share, according to the IDC report. Honor is followed by Oppo, Vivo and then Xiaomi.

US carmaker Tesla also saw its sales in the Chinese market jump, growing 37.3 percent year-on-year in 2023 to around 600,000 units, snapping up the second spot after BYD with a market share of 7.8 percent, data released by the China Passenger Car Association showed. 

Tesla's sales in the Chinese market account for one third of its global shipments last year.   

 "A majority of US tech and consumer firms last year reported rosy performances in China, a market that carries increasing attraction and importance in their global businesses," Wang Peng, an associate researcher with the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday. 

Over the past week, Jensen Huang, CEO and president of Nvidia, another US tech company, was also reportedly visiting Chinese mainland. It was Huang's first visit to the Chinese mainland market in several years, highlighting the great importance he put on the market, which industry insiders said is "too big to simply cede to a competitor."

Before him, prominent US business leaders including Bill Gates and Elon Musk also visited China last year.  

"US companies are increasingly placing their bets on one of the world's fastest-growing markets despite Washington's stepped-up tech crackdown against Beijing. It shows the earnest desire of US business to deepen cooperation with China, which is beneficial for their technological innovation and global development. It is also a strong signal to the US government to make strides to bring bilateral relations back to the right track," Wang said.

China's Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao said on Friday that China is willing to make full use of communication and exchange mechanisms with the US. These mechanisms include ministerial talks, twice-yearly meetings at the deputy ministerial level and monthly consultations at the department and bureau level, as well as the export control information exchange mechanism. 

Shanghai breaks foreign investment record; Guangdong's GDP surpasses $1.83 trillion in 2023

China's economic powerhouses, including Shanghai and South China's Guangdong Province, released their "report cards" for 2023 and their respective goals for GDP growth in 2024 on Tuesday, showcasing significant progress in industrial upgrading and an increase in foreign investment.

Shanghai set a new record in actual foreign investment utilization in 2023, while Guangdong's GDP surpassed 13 trillion yuan ($1.83 trillion), almost reaching the scale of Brazil in 2022. These figures highlight the strength and vitality of the Chinese economic giants, which are expected to lead the revival of the world's second-largest economy in 2024, experts said.

Shanghai's GDP expanded by 5 percent year-on-year in 2023 and the city saw the actual use of foreign capital hit a record high of $24 billion as it remained the top choice for multinational enterprises, Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng announced in the city's government work report on Tuesday.

Shanghai also attracted another 65 regional headquarters of multinationals and 30 more foreign-funded research and development centers in 2023.

New growth drivers and strategic emerging industries developed steadily in Shanghai. The scale of three leading industries - integrated circuits, biopharmaceuticals and artificial intelligence (AI) - reached 1.6 trillion yuan. The cumulative number of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) in Shanghai reached 1.288 million, ranking first among global cities. The number of high-tech enterprises in Shanghai now exceeds 24,000.

The GDP of Guangdong Province grew by 4.8 percent year-on-year to 13.57 trillion yuan in 2023, topping the country for the 35th consecutive year. As a manufacturing heartland and leading foreign trade player in the country, Guangdong accounted for about one-tenth of China's GDP in 2023, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

An economy of that scale brings Guangdong close to that of Brazil in 2022, which stood at $1.92 trillion, according to World Bank data.

High-tech development has been a driving force for the province, with investment in high-tech manufacturing growing by 22.2 percent year-on-year and that of advanced manufacturing increasing by 18.2 percent. With more than 71,000 large-scale industrial enterprises and more than 75,000 high-tech enterprises, Guangdong leads the nation in both categories. 

East China's Jiangsu Province reported GDP growth of 5.8 percent to 12.82 trillion yuan. East China's Zhejiang Province saw its GDP expand by 6 percent in 2023 with the actual use of foreign capital up by 4.8 percent.

In 2023, the economic powerhouses made significant progress in industrial upgrading, manufacturing and foreign investment, Tian Yun, a veteran economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Notably, the record-high foreign capital usage in Shanghai, a leading metropolis of China's opening-up, indicates the country's overall industrial advantages and unchanging position in the global supply chain remain attractive to foreign investors," Tian said.

According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, China's foreign capital usage exceeded 1.13 trillion yuan in 2023, with sources from high-tech industries reaching a record high.

"China now is attracting capital from all over the world, not only from the Western world. So we see a lot of, for example, Middle Eastern money moving to China in a big way for diversification and to seize different opportunities," Rani Jarkas, chairman of Swiss financial firm Cedrus Group, told the Global Times in a recent interview.

It is believed that China's attractiveness to overseas capital in 2024 will be even greater than in 2023. If this trend can be sustained, it will thwart the technology decoupling intentions of certain countries, Tian said.

The economic powerhouses also announced their GDP targets for 2024 at 5-5.5 percent, leading experts to believe that the country may set its overall GDP growth target at about 5 percent.

"Economic growth in 2024 is expected to remain at about 5 percent, with a focus on investment growth," Tian said.

Based on the plans of various provinces for 2024, the economically developed provinces are focusing on strategic emerging industries and industries of the future, forming what is known as new productive forces, Hu Qimu, a deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

For example, Shanghai has set a GDP growth target at about 5 percent for the year 2024. The city plans to renew efforts to enhance high-end industry clusters such as for NEVs, high-end equipment and advanced materials. It will also launch a pilot program for intelligent connected vehicle access and on-road operation, taking the lead nationally.

Guangdong also set its GDP growth target at 5 percent in 2024, with a focus on developing industries of the future such as 6G, quantum technology, life sciences and humanoid robots. It also aims to become an innovation hub for general AI industries.

Zhejiang set its 2024 growth target at 5.5 percent, pledging to vigorously develop the digital economy and add 5,000 new high-tech companies.

"If these provinces can maintain their growth while ensuring that the added value of economic growth comes mainly from the new productive forces, it means that China's economy will be achieving a structural transformation or upgrade without losing momentum," Hu said.

While the eastern provinces are leading the way and establishing growth momentum on the development of emerging strategic industries, provinces in the central and western regions are expected to take on the transfer of traditional manufacturing industries, Hu noted. 

"During this transfer process, there is immense potential in terms of industrial value-added, consumption and infrastructure development," Hu said.

Chinese authorities vow stronger measures to bolster stock market, with sufficient policies in toolkit

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index posted a V-shaped rebound on Wednesday after the securities regulator vowed to strengthen investor protection and oversight of listed companies. Analysts said that Chinese authorities have the confidence and resolve to maintain the healthy and steady development of the country's financial sector, with sufficient policies in their toolkit.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1.8 percent as it regained the psychologically important 2,800-point level, reversing a drop of 0.15 percent in the morning session. The Shenzhen Component Index rose 1 percent to 8,682.19 and the tech-heavy ChiNext index was up 0.51 percent at 1,696.19.

More than 4,000 stocks across the market rose, led by shares related to finance, state-owned enterprises and real estate.

The rally of the A-share market came as multiple government agencies vowed to take measures to prop up the capital market.

On Monday, an executive meeting of the State Council pledged "stronger, more effective measures" to stabilize the market and improve investor confidence.

Wang Jianjun, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), said in a media interview on Wednesday that the commission was taking steps enacted at the key meeting to ensure the healthy and stable development of the capital market.

"We will make more efforts to put investors' interests first. Only by offering sound protection to investors can the capital market have the roots for prosperity. We will embed this idea into the whole process of market system design and regulation enforcement," Wang said.

Zhang Wangjun, another CSRC official, said on Tuesday that more will be done to reform the investment side of the capital market, promote counter-cyclical investment by institutions, and improve the investment channels of social security funds, insurance funds and annuity funds in a bid to foster long-term stable investment forces, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

An official of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council said on Wednesday that the bureau plans to include valuation management in the performance assessments of the leaders of centrally administered state-owned enterprises, in order to make them pay more attention to their stock performance and better reward investors through measures such as stock buybacks and cash dividends.

The authorities' intensive expressions of support for the stock market show that the government has the confidence and resolve to prop up the market and ensure its stable and healthy development in the long run, Dong Shaopeng, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Dong called for decelerating the approval of IPOs and strengthening the regulation of IPO underwriters so as to enhance the quality of listed companies. With a focus on the in-depth reform of the capital market, the authorities should boost the restructuring of the A-share market ecosystem, guided by the implementation of an across-the-board registration-based IPO system, according to Dong.

The A-share market has continued its decreasing trend, which should be reversed by large-scale capital inflows and stepped-up macroeconomic policies, Yang Delong, chief economist at Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund Management Co, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

In 2024, the authorities need to roll out more policies to further strengthen the vitality of the economy. Once the economy further stabilizes, listed companies' profits will increase accordingly, Yang said, calling for patience and confidence in China's stock market.

With the continuous upswing in the country's economic recovery, bearish news will fade away. As a result, the stock market is expected to stabilize and return to normal operations, Dong said.

Pan Gongsheng, governor of the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, said on Wednesday that the central bank will cut the reserve requirement ratio for financial institutions by 0.5 percentage points from February 5, injecting further strong impetus into the market.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Chinese authorities are seeking to mobilize about 2 trillion yuan ($278 billion), mainly coming from offshore accounts of state-owned enterprises, as part of a stabilization fund to buy shares onshore through the Hong Kong exchange link.

Despite recent volatility in the A-share market, analysts remain confident in its long-term performance.

The Chinese stock market has become one of the most attractive in the world in terms of valuation. The overall valuation of A-shares is about half the level of companies listed in the US market, Zhu Liang, chief investment officer of AllianceBernstein's office in China, said in a note sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

China is the world's largest trading country and its capital market is a venue that could provide good yields. Investors across the globe are quietly paying attention to the A-share market, Zhu said.

In 2024, listed Chinese companies are expected to achieve growth in earnings per share of about 17 percent, Zhu said.

BYD releases Xuanji intelligent architecture as Chinese carmakers gear up for global auto intelligence race

Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD released its brand-new intelligent architecture, Xuanji, on Tuesday, with observers saying it represents the latest effort of Chinese carmakers to gear up for transformation in the global auto intelligence race, which is seen as key factor in the next round of competition in the high-end vehicle market.

China's auto industry hit a new milestone in 2023, with record production and sales. The country is also expected to dethrone Japan as the world's top vehicle exporter.

Xuanji is a whole-vehicle intelligent structure that is composed of a self-developed smart brain, a dual artificial intelligence (AI) large model both inside the vehicle and in the cloud - also the industry's first AI large model application in whole vehicle - as well as four "chains" including sensor, controller, data and mechanical systems. The architecture could eventually be connected to three networks including internet of vehicles, 5G and satellite network.

The structure enables dynamic adjustments to various hashrate modes in accordance with demand, and thus would allow a seamless switch between different modes and accommodation to future algorithm models.

At the press briefing in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province where BYD is headquartered, the company also unveiled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system that has been jointly developed with Chinese drone-maker DJI. It supports functions such as taking off and landing with a press of a button, as well as intelligent charging.

BYD said at the press briefing that its accumulation at the electric field has laid a solid foundation for its intelligent drive, which is "the second half court battle in the new energy race."

The company also presented a number of what it claims to be revolutionary intelligent driving techniques during a media tour on Tuesday. For example, in terms of smart parking, it only took 25 seconds for BYD's intelligent driving system to complete parking at a designated space, whereas it took a veteran driver a minimum of 30 seconds to finish the same process.

The Global Times also took a ride in a BYD vehicle using the "Navigate on Autopilot" (NOA) function on Tuesday. During a 45-minute ride, the vehicle deployed multiple autonomous functions in its drive in downtown Shenzhen, such as automatic traffic light identification, automatic steering at road junctions, and autonomous overtaking as well as yielding to pedestrians and two-wheeled vehicles.

A number of other Chinese companies including Huawei, Nio, Xpeng, and Li Auto have released NOA systems tailored for city driving since the beginning of 2023. In the first half of 2023, a total of 209,400 vehicles equipped with NOA were delivered, up 108.98 percent year-on-year, data released by Kaiyuan Securities showed.

It is expected that the number will rise by 141.43 percent to 1.69 million units in 2024, said another report by Western Securities.

BYD received a testing license for level 3 (L3) autonomous driving on high-speed roads in Shenzhen in July 2023. The company said it was the first to be granted such a license in China.

As NEV costs are expected to ease this year due to the mass production effect, building advantages in intelligent systems will help Chinese automakers in the high-end international market, industry observers pointed out.

One industry insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times on Tuesday that while China has a manufacturing edge, there's still a gap between Chinese and foreignfirms in certain intelligent techniques such as autonomous driving technologies, partly because of the foreign firms' first-mover advantage that helped their companies to collect a lot of vehicle data.

"The NOA systems developed by Chinese companies still face a bunch of barriers as the road situation in China is sometimes more complicated than in overseas countries. And Chinese companies arescaling up efforts to accelerate the catch-up process," the insider explained.

China's car output exceeded 30.16 million units in 2023, up 11.6 percent year-on-year, and sales exceeded 30.09 million units, up 12 percent, according to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). Both output and sales set new records, according to the CAAM.

China’s 2023 growth contradicts global gloom, critics: US scholar

Editor's note: China's economy overcame numerous internal and external challenges last year, achieving 5.2 percent expansion and surpassing the target set at the beginning of the year. In the face of tests such as weak external demand, it wasn't easy for the Chinese economy to reach this level of recovery in the first year after the three-year pandemic. 

However, Western critics who constantly underplay China's hard-won economic achievements are again trumpeting "China economic collapse" narrative. The Global Times (GT) invited Gary Hufbauer(Hufbauer), a non-resident senior fellow at US think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics, to share his perspectives on China's economic performance in 2023 and its economic outlook in 2024.

GT: China's GDP grew 5.2 percent year-on-year in 2023, higher than the target of about 5 percent, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Wednesday. How do you view the growth rate in 2023, the first year of the post-COVID recovery?

Hufbauer: The 5.2 percent growth figure for China's economy in 2023 is a strong number, given the size of the Chinese economy, its state of development and the weak outlook for global growth. I sharply disagree with critics who say the Chinese economy is stumbling.

GT: How do you view the current economic situation in China? How do you evaluate China's economic prospects in 2024?

Hufbauer: In my view Chinese prospects in 2024 are good. Beijing can certainly manage dislocations in the property market and prevent any sort of financial crisis. Expansionary fiscal and monetary policies can avert the threat of deflation. China's economic challenges are modest compared, for example, with the challenges facing the EU.

GT: China remains an important engine driving world economic growth. The IMF's senior resident representative in China predicted that the Chinese economy will maintain a sound growth in 2024 and continue to account for one-third of global economic growth. How do you view the global significance of the steady and positive development of the Chinese economy?

Hufbauer: The world economy depends on strong Chinese growth, and that looks assured for 2024. If Chinese growth dropped to 2 percent, as expected for the US, and even less for the EU and Japan, the world outlook would be dismal.

GT: Global growth is projected to slow for the third year in a row - from 2.6 percent last year to 2.4 percent in 2024, the World Bank said. In a world battling many uncertainties, how should major economies jointly tackle challenges and promote global growth rather than politicizing economic issues?

Hufbauer: World leaders should welcome globalization and avoid new trade or investment restrictions. Unfortunately that's not happening in Europe, the US, India and several other places. This is an arena where China can lead.

GT: How should the largest economy in the world - the US - further improve its economic cooperation with China - the second-largest - to provide more certainty and positive energy for the global economy?

Hufbauer: The US should stop the search for new national security risks arising from trade and investment with China, and instead search for new areas of mutual economic gain. Many barriers can be reduced with no harm to the national security of the US or China.

GT: China sent only 45 percent of its exports to the developed economies including the EU and the US in November, figures from data provider CEIC showed. The decline in trade between China and Western countries in November reveals that the reality of "de-risking" is concerning, according to the WSJ. What's your perspective on "de-risking"?

Hufbauer: "De-risking" has gone far enough. "China hawks" in the US Congress want to expand "de-risking" until it reaches "de-coupling." This is misguided, and can only result in dividing the world economy into a China bloc and a US bloc. 

A two-bloc world will depress global growth. Moreover, many countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa reject the idea that they should show primary allegiance to one bloc or the other.

Regional govts use celebrities' power to boost cultural tourism

Including inviting Chinese superstars like Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo to introduce their hometowns, a cutthroat competition has seemingly recently started among several culture and tourism bureaus across the country, which are tactfully transforming "star power" into a new advertising mechanism for provinces and cities to boost local tourism.

The competition is currently white-hot. So far, provinces like Hubei, Shandong, Hebei and Jilin have all found tourist ambassadors like actors Zhu Yilong and Huang Xiaoming. Take Wang Yibo's home province of Henan as an example. Its provincial-level bureau of cultural tourism has been posting around 20 to 30 promotional videos per day on sites like Sina Weibo since January 10. Hebei Province has invited leading actress Zhao Liying as a promoter.

What has made these local tourist organs so "desperate" to show off all of a sudden? The question has a clear answer - the approach of the Spring Festival holiday season in early February, a period that Zhu Jiaming, a tourist market analyst, describes as the "golden annual travel peak."

"Market growth during this time can surge to even three times than usual. It is an opportunity that cannot be missed," Zhu told the Global Times.

If embracing as many visitors as possible is the common goal of tourist destinations, then why turn popular celebrities as a promotional strategy?

The answer to this question is simple - superstars can quickly bring views on social media. For example, on Monday, Xiao Zhan's video to promote his hometown Chongqing became a trending topic earning around 120 million views. The popularity of the video only increased when netizens posted it in fan groups.

"I've shared the link with fans I know in Xi'an and Changsha. We have already formed a tour group to Chongqing and have around eight people on board," Chen Mengxi, a 24-year-old fan in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

Another reason the "celebrity strategy" to boost tourism appears to be powerful is that it can instantly click with the interests of young people, a consumer group that makes up "at least 40 percent of tourism growth," Zhu said. Celebrities like Wang Yibo saying "I'm waiting for you in Luoyang" seems to be a clever psychological maneuver that attempts to establish an intimate connection between visitors and the star.

"I decided to visit Luoyang because I want to see where Yibo grew up," a netizen posted on Sina Weibo.

While we can only see how much this star power has paid off after seeing actual seasonal data, this approach nevertheless is positive as it reveals a celebrity's power to better social growth while also rejuvenating old-fashioned marketing in the current tourism industry. As a famed star, one carries the responsibility to deliver positive social messages. Their supports to society can be reflected from different aspects, and tourism is only one of them.

The contribution of star power to the tourist industry is indeed important, yet what is most essential is whether or not a city or a province is sufficiently prepared to embrace all the visitors brought by a celebrity's fame.

In other words, every tourist destination should pay more attention to improving their tourist resources and facilities and the quality of their services to cater to visitors. The true development of a location's tourism should match the value of the star power that seeks to promote it.

Just like the bygone year of 2023, 2024 is going to see another boom in China's tourist industry. According to data revealed by the China Tourism Academy (Data Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism), it is expected that the number of domestic tourists and domestic tourism revenue will exceed 6 billion people and 6 trillion yuan respectively in 2024.

"We anticipate that new promotional strategies and patterns will emerge from the huge promising market in 2024," Zhu told the Global Times.

WIPO official, experts analyze how China's innovation capability continues to make steady progress amid global instability

In the face of the major opportunities and challenges brought about by a new wave of technological revolution and industrial transformation, innovation has become a topic of particular concern for all countries as it is a key factor in pushing forward a country's continued development.

In September 2023, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released the "Global Innovation Index (GII) Report 2023." The report showed that China, Turkey, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia are the middle-income economies that have made the most headway in innovation over the last decade. Among them, China is the only one that ranked among the top 30.

"China is far ahead in global innovation performance; it is close to the top 10 of the GII ranking and still the sole middle-income economy within the GII top 30," Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, head of the section of Economics and Statistics Division, and co-editor of The GII at the WIPO, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

A close look at the GII reports revealed that since the first release of the GII report in 2007, China's overall ranking has shown a steady upward trend. In this year's ranking, China ranks 12th, having climbed 31 spots from its lowest ranking in previous years (43rd in 2010). The report also specially mentioned that China is the only middle-income economy among the top 30, followed by Japan in the 13th place.

Steady progress in innovation

Data in the GII report showed that in 2023, China ranked first globally in six specific indicators, including the proportion of creative goods export in total trade volume, domestic market scale, labor productivity growth rate, PISA scales in reading, math, and science, the ratio of trademarks by origin to GDP, and the ratio of utility models by origin applications to GDP.

"The GII rankings are compiled based on about 80 indicators which can be gleaned from the country profiles. The indicators are structured around innovation input and innovation output dimensions and cover fields such as human capital, research and development, venture capital, high-tech manufacturing, and patents, but also rank intangible assets and creative goods and services," Wunsch-Vincent explained.

A special excerpt from the GII also showed that the world's five biggest science and technology (S&T) clusters are now located in East Asia, with China emerging as the country with the greatest number of clusters as Tokyo-Yokohama leads as the biggest S&T cluster.

"The emergence of Chinese top science and technology clusters does not come as a surprise with all the science and innovation activity that has propelled China forward in the GII. It is impressive nonetheless - some of the top-ranked cities or regions are obvious leaders such as around Beijing or Shanghai," Wunsch-Vincent noted to the Global Times.

"In addition, there are many cities or clusters emerging, which are new and not that well-known yet as science and technology hubs around the world. In that sense, the ranking also allows the rest of the world to better understand the geography and potential of innovation in China," he said.

Feng Xingke, secretary general of the World Financial Forum and director of the Center for BRICS and Global Governance, told the Global Times that this reflects the shifting of the global center of technological activities to the East, with East Asia leading global technological innovation.

"The increase in the number of Chinese technology clusters is mainly due to China's continuous strengthening of regional technological innovation development strategies in recent years, forming an ecological system for technological innovation with central coordination, local healthy competition, and mutual development," Feng said.

Analysts generally believe that China has made remarkable achievements in the fields of new energy, high-speed rail, modern information, new materials, and artificial intelligence, and related new industries and products have shown strong growth momentum.

Feng pointed out that one important reason for China's innovation progress lies in the strong support from the government.

In recent years, the Chinese government has invested a large amount of funds in major scientific and technological innovation research and development, and has provided a favorable policy and business environment for scientific and technological innovation, strengthened the team of scientific and technological innovation talents, and laid a solid foundation for technological innovation progress, he said.

In a previous interview with the Global Times, Manuel C. Menendez, founder and CEO of MCM Group Holdings, hailed the great achievements that China has made over the last decade.

He noted that in addition to the country's policy, it is necessary to give credit to Chinese entrepreneurs and China's ability to take a policy and make it work step by step.

According to Wunsch-Vincent, an important reason for China to progress rapidly is that China has "prioritized innovation and science and technology policy as a means to achieve economic growth and development for many decades now. It has consistently increased its innovation expenditures and has built an impressive innovation ecosystem."

"I also believe that China has a dynamic start-up scene with abundant young and highly skilled human capital. These factors have helped China achieve the rise that the GII describes, and to stand out among other middle-income economies," he noted.

China has a long tradition of placing high emphasis on innovation and the capability to turn applications into industrial development. China is also sharing its outcomes from scientific development with other regions of the world, which experts pointed out will help facilitate global development.

For example, in November 2023, China hosted the first Belt and Road Conference on Science and Technology Exchange in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. China has signed intergovernmental science and technology cooperation agreements with more than 80 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners, jointly building a comprehensive, multi-level, and wide-ranging science and technology cooperation pattern, Xinhua reported.

"China's growth - both economic and also innovation-wise - is significant both for the world and the wider region. China has made notable strides in innovation in fields such as information technology, health, electric vehicles and batteries with commercialized products, and nanotechnology or other deep science fields," Wunsch-Vincent said.

However, several experts also noted to the Global Times that such innovation in China also faces increasing challenges as some people in the West actively call for so-called "technological decoupling" from China.

"China should establish an open international cooperation mechanism for scientific and technological innovation and clearly oppose 'technological decoupling.' It is necessary to build a systematic, multi-level, comprehensive, and targeted international strategy for scientific and technological innovation cooperation," Feng told the Global Times.

"China should continue to strengthen innovation cooperation with the US, deepen scientific and technological cooperation with Russia, make good use of European scientific and technological innovation resources, seize opportunities for innovation cooperation with Japan and South Korea, and actively participate in the formulation of international regulations for emerging technologies," Feng said.

Middle-income economies full of development potential

The GII, launched in 2007 and is now in its 16th edition, takes the pulse of innovation by tracking the most recent global innovation trends and benchmarking about 130 countries worldwide and the top 100 science and technology clusters on their innovation performance.

With the theme "Innovation in the Face of Uncertainty," the GII 2023 report used the average of the input and output sub-indices to track the global state of innovation. The highlight is that innovation investments showed mixed performance in 2022 within a context of many challenges and a downturn in innovation finance, Wunsch-Vincent said.

According to Wunsch-Vincent, in 2023, global scientific publications, research and development (R&D), venture capital (VC) deals, and patents continued to increase more than ever. However, growth rates were lower than the exceptional increases seen in 2021. In addition, the value of VC investment declined and international patent filings stagnated in 2022. In particular, reflecting a deteriorating climate for risk finance, the value of VC investments declined sharply in 2022 from an exceptionally high level in 2021. And the VC volumes declined by over 30 percent in 2023 relative to 2022, and are expected to be only half of the amount invested in the VC boom year of 2021.

Wu Jinxi, Director of the Strategic Emerging Industries Research Center at the School of Social Sciences of Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that in the face of global issues such as rising R&D costs and slowing patent growth, the efficiency of scientific research and innovation system should be improved first, and scientific research resources should be allocated reasonably, "putting money where it matters most."

Despite downward pressure on the global economy, countries should not reduce investment in scientific research, he said.

However, many experts and analysts from various countries also see the current situation of opportunities and challenges coexisting. The 2023 GII report shows that the innovation performance of middle-income economies as a whole is quite remarkable. In the last decade, China has become the fastest-growing middle-income economy on the GII rankings along with Turkey, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Iran.

A total of 21 economies, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania, are rated by the report as "exceeding expectations" in terms of their innovation performance relative to their level of economic development. India, Moldova, and Vietnam have outperformed expectations for 13 consecutive years.

According to Feng, the reason behind these economies' performance exceeding expectations is mainly the world governance pattern of globalization and multilateralism. In the context of the new round of scientific and technological revolution, the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries and the development of emerging industries have provided a historic opportunity for developing economies to catch up with developed economies in new areas, he noted.

Compared with Western countries using technological monopoly advantages to contain developing countries and emerging economies, China is more willing to share innovative technologies through technology transfer or joint development said Liang Zhihua, president of Southeast Asia Social Science Research Center.

Liang believes that with the export and sharing of China's scientific and technological innovation, the digital transformation of middle-income and emerging economies, including Malaysia, will further be propelled.

Wunsch-Vincent noted that the GII report is a "tool for action" regarding innovation policy for governments around the world. A survey carried out by WIPO in 2022 showed that 70 percent of WIPO member states were using the GII to improve innovation ecosystems and metrics, as well as being a benchmark for national innovation policies or economic strategies.

In Feng's view, middle-income economies have the corresponding economic strength, scientific and technological foundation, and late-comer advantages, and have the opportunity to become a new engine of global innovation, but this is not an inevitable result.

"Only by balancing the relationship between the government and the market, formulating sound industrial and financial policies, building a market-oriented, legalized, and internationalized business environment, and stimulating the motivation and vitality of enterprises to innovate through market mechanisms can middle-income economies be expected to become the main force of innovation," he said.

Chinese MSS releases cartoon episode to enhance public awareness as foreign organizations covert China’s data resources

As January 10 marks the fourth Chinese People's Police Day, the Ministry of State Security warns on Tuesday that in recent years, some overseas organizations have repeatedly coveted China's important data resources, and external data security threats have emerged in an endless stream. The Ministry has also released the latest episode of the classic Chinese cartoon Black Cat Detective to enhance public awareness on data security.

This time, the criminal duo, Monkey Eagle and One-Ear, attempted to jeopardize forest security by stealing residents' data information. However, their actions had already been discovered by the Forest Security Bureau. Led by Detective Black Cat, the Forest Security Bureau team fought back, utilizing high-tech methods such as artificial intelligence. In the end, the criminal gang that posed a threat to forest security was brought to justice.

The vast ocean of data is like the oil resources of an industrial society, containing enormous productivity and business opportunities. Whoever controls the core data controls the resources and initiative for development, making it a coveted target for forest criminal organizations and lawbreakers. When these important data are leaked, various problems and contradictions arise, such as disorder in forest transactions, paralysis of public transportation, loss of personal property, and disclosure of residents' privacy. Some often-overlooked channels and platforms are often the source of information leaks.

In the latest episode, through the collaborative operations of the electronic surveillance team and analysis team, Detective Black Cat successfully captured a criminal gang led by One-Ear, dealing a heavy blow to external forces threatening forest security and effectively safeguarding forest security.

Data security is an important area of national security. Safeguarding data security is safeguarding national security, defending data sovereignty is defending national sovereignty, and protecting data security is guarding a better future.

In recent years, some foreign organizations have repeatedly coveted China's important data resources, and external threats to data security have been emerging. National security agencies steadfastly implement the overall national security concept, and in collaboration with relevant departments, they vigorously crack down on illegal and criminal activities in accordance with the law, timely eliminate major security risks such as data theft and leaks, and effectively safeguard our country's important data security, the ministry said.

Guangdong tops Chinese provinces in private sector size, favorable business environment

As an important powerhouse of China's economy, Guangdong Province has achieved a new milestone in 2023 by leading the nation in the total number of business entities, enterprises, foreign-invested enterprises, and private-owned companies. 

The achievement is attributed to various factors, including the province's favorable business environment, experts said.

In 2023, the total number of registered business entities in Guangdong reached a staggering 18 million, representing a 10th of the country's total. The figure marked a significant increase of 1.7 million, or 10.6 percent growth from the previous year, making it the highest growth rate in the past five years, according to Guangdong Administration for Market Regulation.

The province also boasts the largest number of all types of enterprises in China. It is home to 7.8 million enterprises, accounting for one-seventh of the nation's total, which includes some 7.2 million private enterprises,

After the issuance of the guidelines on boosting the growth of private economy on July 19, 2023, Guangdong launched a series of measures to respond to the problems that private businesses face, and it focused on promoting fair market competition and protecting the legitimate interests of private businesses and entrepreneurs, Zhou Rong, a senior researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

For private enterprises of different sizes, including individual businesses, Guangdong Province responded to their problems in a targeted manner, published guidelines and solutions covering all industrial sectors to help private enterprises tackle their problems related with their business development, Zhou said.

Guangdong is also one of the most preferred destinations for foreign investors. In 2023, 21,000 newly foreign-invested enterprises were set up in the province, making Guangdong home to over 199,000 foreign-invested enterprises, accounting for a quarter of the nation's total. 

Guangdong has also taken measures to optimize the business environment in the Greater Bay Area, creating a favorable investment environment for all overseas investors, Zhou said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong and Macao-invested business entities in Guangdong Province amounted to 96,000 in 2023, up 15.5 percent year-on-year. Notably, over 8,000 entities were registered in 2023, rising 64.4 percent over 2022.

The success of Guangdong Province in attracting Hong Kong and Macao businesses is mainly attributed to the vigorous efforts made by the province in providing the best services. Measures were taken to optimize business environment in the Greater Bay Area, especially in promoting the linkage between the markets of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, Zhou noted.

The province is deepening reform of business registration system, implementing universal registration in the Greater Bay Area, and pushing electronic notarial instruments for Hong Kong investors, so as to realize full electronic registration of Hong Kong-invested enterprises, and facilitate investment and development of businesses in the Greater Bay Area, reported.