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Week in China – Column 3

In Review: December 2021 Highlights
By Steven Irvine – Founder, CEO & Editor ‘Week in China

As the year draws to a close here are a few of my Editor’s Picks for favourite articles that we published in 2021.

Our most-read article of the year was our interview with KONE’s Helsinki-based CEO Henrik Ehrnrooth. This Q&A reads almost like a business school case study in explaining how a multinational went about building a market-leading business in China – in KONE’s case in elevators and escalators.

Another popular Q&A was with top China economist Jonathan Anderson in which he dissected recent trade data. His conclusion: that the Chinese economy isn’t decoupling from the US and that China has been making permanent gains in its share of global exports as the Covid-19 pandemic lingers.

This conventional wisdom – that China is decoupling from the US in economic terms – was also challenged in an article about how Apple had actually increased, not decreased, its number of China suppliers. This story was selected for the China Stories podcast for its own ‘best of 2021’ round up last weekend (WiC has been providing content to China Stories since the podcast was launched earlier in the year).

We launched our ranking of the Top 50 China Unicorns in March and updated it in July after Didi exited it via a New York IPO. There was another update in November, after the clampdown on China’s edtechs saw them leave the ranking as well.

2021 was a year of crackdowns, not just for the edtechs but also for the bigger internet platforms like Alibaba and Tencent, who were hit by new regulations and antitrust fines. Celebrities were caught in the firing line and ‘cancelled’ as well, when they were deemed to be setting bad examples.

This was also the year when property giant Evergrande’s finances finally unravelled. We looked at five prior restructurings to assess what they could mean for Xu Jiayin’s firm. At the start of the year we also discussed how the formerly high-flying retailer Suning was being dragged down by its association with Xu, and how that was having an impact as far afield as the Italian football league.

In a tale of two tycoons we discussed the differing R&D visions of Liu Chuanzhi and Ren Zhengfei, after Lenovo was denied a STAR Market listing. We reviewed the different approaches of the two men and what they indicated about the direction of the Chinese economy, as well as the government’s priorities.

Finally, we reported back on the performance of the WiC30, launched in 2017 as a 30-stock blue chip index for Chinese A-shares. Click here to find out how we created the index and how it performed.

As a Christmas gift, PBEC members are invited to activate their own complimentary subscription to Week in China and its archive of articles and books (such as China’s Tycoons) by using this complimentary URL:

With that, it only remains for me to wish all our PBEC friends a pleasant festive season. WiC will be back with a standard edition in January 2022.

Steven Irvine – Founder, CEO & Editor ‘Week in China



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