The Rise and Fall of the Greater China's Economy

Based on The Perspective of View of Enterprise Ranking

China's economy has grown rapidly after its economic reform, however, Hong Kong and Taiwan's economic performance in recent years gradually slows down and declines. Li Ka-shing, a Hong Kong investor and the richest person in Asia, publicly foresaw the worst economy in two decades in Hong Kong. Taiwanese workers’ real salaries have seen zero growth since 2000.
Fortune 500 is generally assumed to mirror the economy. Here, we want to use the data visualization to test this hypothesis: enterprise ranking can reflect economic growth. The data is based on the past two decades from Fortune 500.

Liuhuaying Yang & Zhengyan Yu

Information Design & Visualization, Northeastern University

The Ranking Distribution of the Greater China Area Enterprises

The y-axis represents the Fortune 500 rankings and x-axis represents the years from 1995–2016. The green circles represent China’s enterprises, the blue circles represent Hong Kong’s enterprises, and the red circles represent Taiwan’s enterprises.

From this visualization of Fortune 500 rankings, we can see that the green circles are the most evident. The number of red circles is slightly more than blue circles. From left to right of the visualization, the circles are getting denser, and the green circles significantly are more than blue and red ones.

However, what is the relation of those circles? Which enterprises represent those circles? Let's scroll down!

The Change Trend of Mainland China Enterprises–Overall

First, this visualization shows the changes in trend of China’s enterprises, for the most part, the trend is upward. But if we look at it carefully, there are three parts of this visualization: higher ranked enterprises after 1999, rapidly growing enterprises after 2006, and some declining enterprises.

The Change Trend of Mainland China Enterprises–Keep high ranking

Here, we select three enterprises which have been higher ranked since the first entering on the list. They are State Grid, China National Petroleum, and Sinopec Group which are all government-owned enterprises. Their rankings in 2016 are 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively.

Fortune 500 ranks the enterprises by their total revenue, and government-owned enterprises typically have higher revenues than other companies. As a result, it is much easier for government-owned enterprises to appear on the ranking list.

The Change Trend of Mainland China Enterprises–Ranking Rise significantly

Here, we select enterprises which have risen rapidly. By this, "rise significantly" means that from the first rank to the last rank, the enterprise has risen 100 places. There are such 51 China enterprises.

The Change Trend of Mainland China Enterprises–Ranking drops

Here, we select enterprises which rankings are declining. "Declining " means that from the first rank to the last rank, the enterprise has gone down more than (or equal) one place. There are 11 such China enterprises.

How about Hong Kong? Let’s scroll down!

The Change Trend of Hong Kong Enterprises–Overall

Let's look at Hong Kong’s enterprises overall change trend. Compared with China, Hong Kong’s enterprises on the list are much fewer. Over the years the total amount of enterprises on the list is six. It shows a rising trend overall. Also, the enterprises on the list are more and more: there is only one enterprise on the list before 2006, and there are three enterprises on the list from 2007 to 2013. In 2015 and 2016, there are five enterprises on the list.

Based on the Fortune 500 rankings, it does not meet people's perception that Hong Kong’s economy is getting worse in recent years.

Noble Group: the rise in rank is largest

Here, we analyze one specific Hongkong company, Nobel Group, which rises in rank is largest compared to other Hongkong enterprises.

Noble Group's peak rank is 76 in 2013 and 2014. The peak rank compared to the rank in 2007 which is 394, it has risen 273 places. But Noble Group ranking slightly declined in 2016, the rank dropped down to 116th.

Noble Group, with extensive experience in supply chain management, started as an Asian steel trading business with a focus on agricultural, energy, logistics, finances, gold, and minerals.

Jardine Matheson: stay on the list for the longest time

We continue to analyze a specific Hongkong enterprise. Before 2007, Jardine Matheson's ranking was bad and unstable, but after 2007, its ranking has risen a lot. The rank in 2016 has risen 164 places compared to the rank in 2007.

Jardine Matheson is an old brand foreign firm founded in 1832. During the Qing Dynasty, it engaged in trade with China and sold opium.

The Change Trend of Taiwan Enterprises–Overall

Let's look at Taiwan’s enterprises overall change trend. Compared with Hong Kong, Taiwan has more enterprises on the list. Over the years there are 11 enterprises on the list totally. Regarding on the ranking part, except one company which ranking rises rapidly, others ranks go up first then go down and then go up again.

Which is the enterprise with the most rapid upward ranking? Let's scroll down!

Hon Hai Precision Industry: the enterprise with the most rapid upward ranking

Hong Hai was on the list for the first time in 2005 and the ranking is 371st. Then, the ranking rose rapidly. It has the best performance in 2016, the rank is 25th. The gap between the two ranks is 346 places.

Hon Hai is headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan. It mainly engages in the electronics industry and expands its business to outside the region of Taiwan as a name called Foxconn. Hong Hai was founded in 1974, there were only 10 workers in the beginning, however, by 2005, it has become the world's largest foundry.

Chinese Petroleum Corporation: stay on the list for the longest time

Chinese Petroleum Corporation(CPC) was on the list for the first time in 1996, and it is the first Taiwan’s enterprise on the list and the time staying on the list is the longest. CPC is Taiwan's largest petrochemical energy company and it is also a state-owned enterprise. Founded in 1946 in Shanghai, because of the civil war, CPC came to Taiwan in 1949.

ASUSTek Computer Inc: the most tragic Taiwan enterprises

ASUS is the only one Taiwan’s enterprise which was on the list at the beginning but ranking continuously declined finally was out of the list. Its ranking in 2007 was 363th, then dropped to 436th in 2009, and was 465th in 2010.

ASUS is a multinational hardware and components company, including desktop computers, notebook computers, etc., and its PC sales worldwide ranked fourth in 2016.


From those visualizations, we can conclude that China enterprises' performance is getting better and better, and there is a trend that more following enterprises are entering the Fortune 500 list. Likewise, there are more and more Hong Kong enterprises on Fortune list, and basically, Hong Kong enterprises' rankings are going upward. As for the part of Taiwan, the change trend is ups and downs, and fewer new enterprises showing on the list.

Let's look back at the theme, China's economy is growing stronger after the reform and opening-up. It can be seen from the Fortune 500 visualizations. Taiwan's downturn in the economy can also be observed from the ups and downs of the enterprises' rankings. As for Hong Kong's economic boom in recent years, we cannot observe this phenomenon from the fortune 500 visualizations.