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China: Realising or Inhibiting Potential

by Helen Sanders, Editor

Ensuring the safety, integrity and genuineness of products will continue to pose a major challenge for the Chinese government.

This month I visited China for the first time in eight or nine months. My visit was just after Golden Week, when the country shuts down for nearly a week’s holiday. And what do people do during this week? They shop. Even a few months on from my last visit, the changes in the major cities are very noticeable. The number of sleek new malls, sporting only the top designer brands, is growing rapidly, and the appetite for French brands in particular seems unquenchable. The roads are ever more crowded with shiny vehicles, each passing a new skyscraper every couple of weeks in Shanghai alone.

The genuine article?

Despite the significant growth and opportunity, there remain significant challenges in China. Lack of confidence in the genuineness and integrity of goods continues to encourage those consumers who are able to go to Hong Kong for their purchases. Indeed, over a million extra Chinese visitors filled the Hong Kong malls over the weekend of Golden Week. After numerous scandals and contaminations, from baby milk and pharmaceuticals, to toilet paper and noodles, this lack of confidence is also becoming increasingly apparent amongst the business community. After all, a company may have no involvement at all in fake production of its goods, but the damage to its brand could be considerable should a scandal emerge. Consequently, ensuring the safety, integrity and genuineness of products will continue to pose a major challenge for the Chinese government, to increase confidence and encourage investment within the country.