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Growth of Chinese investments in Asia-Pacific

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China totaled $37 billion in investments in 2023. (Archive photo)

  • Philippe Leblanc (View profile)Philippe Leblanc

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Even though the Chinese economy is going through its worst crisis in 30 years, the country's investments abroad, in the Asia-Pacific region, increased significantly in 2023.

According to a report released on March 7 by Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, China totaled US$37 billion in investments in 2023, compared to US$29 billion in 2022. This is an increase by 27.6%.

This is a significant contrast with all foreign investments granted to emerging Asian countries, according to this report. Foreign investment was down 12%.

Over the past 10 years, China has made $530 billion in investments in Asia-Pacific, split between construction contracts ($245 billion) and non-financial investments ($285 billion).

China has distributed its financing and investments to 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific in 2023. A total of 12 countries have received investments and 18 have received construction projects. Most of these countries are part of the New Silk Roads put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

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Indonesia was the main beneficiary, with around 7, 3 billion dollars in investments, followed by Malaysia (2.7 billion), Singapore (2.6 billion) and South Korea (2.3 billion).

A significant portion of this came from Chinese company TikTok's acquisition of 75% of Indonesian e-commerce platform Tokopedia.

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TikTok has captured the majority of Indonesian e-commerce platform Tokopedia. (File photo)

The Chinese company wanted to return to the e-commerce sector in Indonesia, after local authorities forced TikTok to separate its shopping features of its social media last October.

China's investments in the green energy sector saw strong growth in 2023 with investments in the production of batteries for electric cars in Indonesia, among others, as well as in wind energy in Laos.

In contrast, six countries saw a 100% decline in Chinese engagement in Asia-Pacific compared to 2022. These are the Philippines, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan and Turkey.

For 2024, Griffiths University report expects growth in Chinese investment and construction contracts appear possible.

There is a clear need for investment to boost green growth to support the ecological transition, both in China and countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This provides excellent opportunities to transact in mining and mineral processing, technology (e.g. electric vehicle manufacturing or battery manufacturing) and technology. ;green energy (e.g. energy production and transmission).

China designates these sectors (electric vehicles, batteries and energy renewables) under the term “new trio”, we can read in the report.

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Electric vehicles are part of China's “new trio”. (Archive photo)

Chinese companies are also seeking favorable opportunities overseas due to the economic crisis in China.

The Middle Kingdom announced that consumer prices increased by 0.7% in February compared to the same period last year. China had seen its biggest price drop in 14 years the previous month. Economic analysts argue that deflation continues to threaten China.

  • Philippe Leblanc (View profile)Philippe LeblancFollow

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