Nearly 60% of China’s executives saw investment opportunities emanating from the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative

  • 33% of senior business executives from Mainland China and Hong Kong are "very confident" about their company's prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months
  • Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong are considered most attractive to organisation's overall growth prospects over the next 12 months
  • "Uncertain economic growth" tops the list of threats this year
  • Chinese companies are leading the world in the application of various technologies by adopting and prioritising digitisation

Hong Kong, 2 Mar 2017 - PwC launches the China report of the 20th Global CEO survey: Leading through disruption. The survey finds that 33% of senior business executives from Mainland China and Hong Kong are "very confident" about their companies' prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months, increased from 25% in 2016. Meanwhile, the 'Belt and Road' initiative is considered as a key part of organisation's business expansion strategy, as nearly 60% of executives in China saw investment opportunities emanating from the initiative, especially in infrastructure development.

China's executives were more positive than their peers about global economic growth over the next 12 months (China 31% vs. globally 29%). Executives in Mainland China and Hong Kong considered Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as the most attractive cities to organisation's overall growth prospects over the next 12 months, whereas New York and Singapore are ranked in fourth and fifth respectively.

"Despite a turbulence in 2016, China's CEOs are moving back up. They are more confident in the opportunity for growth over the next 12 months," says Frank Lyn, Senior partner of PwC Hong Kong. "Meanwhile, China is still considered as one of the most attractive investment places in the world. The 'Belt and Road' initiative will provide more investment opportunities for companies and help to improve the business environment in the coming months."

To drive their growth strategy and profitability in the next 12 months, high proportion of executives in China cited organic growth (67%), entering into a new strategic alliance/joint venture (54%) and new M&A (32%) as the primary activities. Strengthening innovation and digital capabilities are necessary to capitalize on new opportunities.

The labour market is facing a mismatch of skills demand and supply. Nearly 60 percent of executives in Mainland China and Hong Kong expect to increase their headcount in the next 12 months. However, 85% are worried about the availability of key skills and they find "somewhat" or "very difficult" to recruit people with creativity and innovation (79%), leadership (70%) and problem-solving skills (64%).

Companies in China are leading the world in the application of technology by adopting and prioritising digitisation in order to capture economic and productivity benefits. Nearly half of the respondents in China believe that technology is to be used to improve people's well-being. But China's CEO also have serious concerns on cybersecurity and data privacy breaches, amongst the CEOs surveyed in China 66% of them "agree" or "agree strongly" that how they manage people's data will differentiate them from their competitors. Given the lack of trust in the digital age, companies will have to build and sustain stakeholder trust and confidence through actions such as enhanced management of cybersecurity, digital and data risks.

China has benefitted from globalisation and there is consensus amongst executives in China and globally that globalisation has improved the ease of moving capital, people, goods and information. Half of CEOs in China (compared to 38% of their global counterparts) believe that globalisation has helped "to some extent" to reduce the gap between rich and poor.

The dramatic political outcomes of the last few months are demanding change to the business as usual model. In China, 86% of executives told us that it is more important to run business in a way that accounts for wider stakeholder expectations. Business leaders today have a great opportunity and responsibility to lead through the disruptions by demonstrating purpose and increasing trust through corporate behaviour and to work in partnership across sectors towards shared goals that leads to positive outcomes and real returns for all stakeholders.

  1. For a full report, go to (English version): www.pwccn.com/ceosurvey
    (Simplified Chinese version): www.pwccn.com/ceosurvey/chi.

  2. PwC conducted its 20th annual CEO survey to gauge the sentiments of executives all over the world. The survey built around the theme Technology, Globalisation and the CEO was conducted between September to December 2016. We interviewed over 1,300 executives from 79 countries across a range of industries.

  3. This is the China report which presents the views of 182 executives based in China and Hong Kong. For the purposes of this report, “China” refers to the People's Republic of China, including Hong Kong survey respondents.

  4. The top three sectors in the Mainland China sample were Financial Services (32%), Technology (15%) and Industrial Manufacturing (8%), whereas the top three sectors in the Hong Kong sample were Financial Services (35%), Consumer Goods & Retail (17%) and Industrial Manufacturing (10%). Sample survey respondents in the aggregate China sample were primarily distributed among four main sectors: Financial Services (32% of total respondents), Technology (12% of total respondents), Industrial Manufacturing (9% of total respondents) and Consumer Goods & Retail (9% of total respondents).

  5. Segmenting firms by revenue: 41% of the sample firms post annual revenue up to US$100 million, 25% of the sample is constituted of firms that post annual revenue between US$101 – 999 million and 22% of the sample firms post annual revenues over US$1 billion.

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