China has a target for 60 per cent of its population to live in cities by 2020

The diversification of the Chinese economy is creating opportunities for foreign businesses and investors, according to Helen Wong, Chief Executive, Greater China, HSBC.

Addressing an HSBC conference in central London, Ms Wong said sectors such as infrastructure and services are growing in importance as China seeks to reduce its dependence on manufacturing and exports.

She explained that China wants 60 per cent of its population to live in cities by 2020, compared with an urbanisation rate of around 54 per cent today. Meeting this target will require the construction of new infrastructure such as inter-city and suburban railways. With proper preparation, overseas companies may be able to capture the resulting opportunities, Ms Wong said.

Chinese tourists made more than 100 million visits abroad in 2014

She added that China’s middle classes are also growing, leading to increased consumption and growing demand for services. Chinese tourists made more than 100 million visits abroad in 2014, and Ms Wong said she expected demand for other services including insurance, healthcare and education would increase.

Qu Hongbin, Chief Economist for Greater China, HSBC, also spoke at the event. He said that Chinese policymakers are keen to achieve “more balanced” growth by using “new engines” such as domestic consumption to support the economy. With China unlikely to repeat the double-digit economic expansion seen in the early part of the 21st century, growth is likely to stabilise at a more moderate and sustainable level, he added.

The conference “New roads to China: China’s global future, RMB and reform” took place on 16 October 2015. HSBC representatives were joined onstage by speakers from other businesses, banks and official bodies including the People’s Bank of China and the UK Treasury.

The conference explored trends in the Chinese economy, including: plans for infrastructure investment under China’s “One Belt, One Road” programme; the growth of green finance in China; and the development of the RMB as an international reserve currency.

HSBC Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver opened the conference with a keynote speech about green opportunities in China (6-page PDF 212 KB).