Think you know China? Think again! Visitors to the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2017 in Dalian have just witnessed a whirlwind of facts and data on possibly the world's biggest economy. From the number of people looking for love in China and the secret to a happy life, to cars with 20 doors and the economic value of AI, here's a selection of some of the most eye-catching stats and predictions.
1. Entrepreneurship is rampant in the world's second largest economy. According to Premier Li Keqiang, over 18,000 businesses were created in China last month.
2. The spending power of Chinese consumers is colossal. Spending will top US$56 trillion in the next decade, said Channel NewsAsia's Xueling Lin in this session.
3. Artificial intelligence is going to have a massive impact on the way we live and work - but what's its economic value? About $16 trillion a year by 2030, according to this report launched in Dalian.
4. Northern lights. Finland and Sweden plan to be carbon neutral by 2045.
5. China's new mega-city, Xiong'an New Area, will run 100% on renewable energy, according to Shu Yinbiao, the head of the state grid. The new municipality, under construction about 100km southwest of Beijing, will be the “smart city of the future”, he said.
6. Nature can help us solve some of humanity's greatest challenges, said Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio in this session on bio-inspired design. The Chairman of Space Time Ventures spoke specifically about the importance of the Amazon rainforest, where a new species is discovered every three days. The Amazon also removes over 2 billion tonnes of CO2 every year, while its abundant rainfall generates 20% of the freshwater input into the world’s oceans.
7. Jean Liu, CEO of ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing, the biggest sharing economy company in the world, predicted that car sharing will soon use vehicles that carry 20 passengers and have 20 doors.
8. China has taken the lead on climate action, investing more than any other country in the world. Around 400 million of its people are now using water meters, said China's minister for science and technology, Wan Gang.
9. China's growth may be slowing, but its consumer economy is still growing - and growing fast. By 2021, China will add $1.8 trillion in new consumption, roughly the size of Germany’s consumer economy, and a quarter of all consumption growth in major economies, according to a report launched at the meeting.
10. As demographics shift in China, new types of consumers are being created. The same report also tells us that more and more Chinese are staying single into their mid-30s. A decade ago, 4% of people over 35 were unmarried. Now it’s 21%.
11. Chinese people spend three times as much time on their mobile phones as they do at a PC, said Jeff Walters, Partner and Managing Director at the Boston Consulting Group.
12. China is facing the largest diabetes epidemic in the world, with around 11% of its population suffering from the metabolic illness. Another 36% are pre-diabetic, according to a US study cited in this session on the spread of non-communicable diseases.
13. The adoption of mobile payment technology has been rapid in China. Mobile payments have quadrupled in the last year, rising to as much as $8.6 trillion, and now account for 48% of retail sales, said ARK CEO Catherine Wood. This gives the Asian giant a huge advantage, while developed countries are held back by their traditional infrastructure.
14. China has become a world leader for AI. In the five years to 2015, the country filed 8,000 patents, a 190% growth rate that outpaces other leading markets significantly, according to Accenture.
15. The world is full of “Blue Zones” of happiness. Controlled for other factors, if you live in a sunny country, you're 2% more likely to be happy, if you live near water this rises to 5%. These are the findings of best-selling author and National Geographic Fellow, Dan Buettner.
16. China wants to become a football superpower, and it's putting its money where its mouth is. Of the 20 highest-paid footballers in the world, 10 are based in China (and one reportedly earns $780,000 a week). Globalization has been good to China, but can it help the nation win a World Cup?
17. China is going back to the bike. Not too long ago, China was known as the “kingdom of the bicycle”, a derogatory term, said science and technology minister Wan Gang. Now, thanks to the rise and rise of bike-sharing companies like Ofo and Mobike, with their combined 6 million users a week, cycling has made a huge comeback in China. Beijing-based Ofo recently netted $450 million in funding and joined the unicorn club of private companies valued at over $1 billion. It has 10 million users.
18. In the city of Shenzhen in southern China, the company E Umbrella Sharing (one of a number of umbrella sharing start-ups) offers protection from the rain for 14 US cents an hour.
19. China is the world’s biggest producer of solar power, has the world’s biggest solar farm and the largest wind turbine manufacturer.