China is not just a political entity but also an ethnicity making China very difficult to define. Greater China is a term often used to refer to the collective regions of mainland China, Hong Kong/ Macau and Taiwan, as these regions share close business, ethnic, political and cultural connections. Business opportunities in these regions should not be overlooked, and while companies should really treat these markets as separate, Hong Kong/Macau and Taiwan may also provide a gateway to business success in mainland China, as well as in the wider Asia-Pacific region. It is also important not to overlook the Chinese diaspora which is dispersed throughout the Asia-Pacific. In New Zealand alone there is over 200,000 ethnic Chinese. These groups can provide New Zealand companies with an additional market as well as a good jumping point before entering the mainland. 

Mainland China is vast and very diverse. It is broken into 31 provinces and four municipalities, use the map to explore the provinces (yellow), and municipalities (red).  Each provinces has very different characteristics including linguistic, cultural, taste, judicial and administrative. When choosing to enter China it is important to choose your location carefully and respect the specific characteristics of the area. 

Those residing in smaller cities and inland areas are more traditional and conservative in their consumption compared to those in coastal areas, and they tend to be more price-sensitive and focused on functionality and durability. Whereas, consumers in coastal cities care more about brand reliability and consider emotional needs as important in their purchasing decisions. As China develops at different rates across its vast regions, companies should take time to consider which cities to target and undertake in-depth research into local areas. In the more developed cities, consumers are often more sophisticated and discerning in their spending as the market becomes more mature and competitive. Whereas, in cities that are seeing rapid growth, companies will have to overcome difficulties in distribution and retail, but the rewards may be relatively higher in these untapped markets.


Mega-Regions are also being developed by standardising regulations such as taxation, legal policies as well as integrating their infrastructure across multiple cities or regions. According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China there are ten major metropolitan regions. They constitute about one-tenth (9.99%) of China's land area, one-third (35.02%) of the country's population and one-half (52.83%) of the country's GDP. Among them, the largest three are: the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), centered around Guangzhou; the Pearl River Delta (PRD), centered around Shanghai; and Jingjinji (JJJ), centered around Beijing. 


Free trade zones in China are a specific class of special economic zones; an area where goods may be landed, handled, manufactured and re-exported without intervention of the customs authority. China’s first Free Trade Zone opened in Shanghai in 2013 and was seen as a milestone in doing business in China. It replaced the previous “low-cost land policy” of the more traditional industrial zones and is used to try and explore policies for modernizing Chinese businesses. The FTZ should be seen as a blueprint of further reform throughout China. Unlike other types of SEZs, free-trade zones can experiment with financial models and attract investment. Free-trade zones are organized in areas with many geographical advantages for trade e.g. major seaports and international airports. After the opening in Shanghai, several other FTZ’s have been initiated in April 2015: Tianjin, Guangdong and Fujian. Each of the locations were not chosen randomly, but serve a specific purpose.




Shanghai, in August 2013, was the first city to be given the opportunity to trial a free trade zone; with fewer restrictions it was hoped that it would bring more foreign investment into China and take the focus away from Hong Kong, where the government has less control. Focus: international trade, financial services.



Tianjin is a major city only located 30 minutes south of Beijing. It has a harbour and a well developed industrial sector. However, the major reason that the Central Government chose Tianjin is for a future purpose: Jingjinji, also known as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei. This region is emerging as the major northern metropolitan area, rivaling the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta. It is the wish of the Government to combine these cities in terms of infrastructure, manufacturing / industry and R&D resources. For that reason, a huge airport in the center of Jingjinji has been planned: Beijing Daxing International Airport. Also, it is the only FTZ zone in Northern China. This will boost Tianjin’s in the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. Focus: Shipping, financial leasing and high-end manufacturing.



Guangdong has a distinct advantage: the geographic location. It has several major ports and is the Chinese gateway to both Hong Kong and Macau. China is pushing for the 21th century (maritime) silk road, and both Shanghai and Guangdong fit the start of this route perfectly. Guangdong is a leading industrial province, with a huge electronic R&D sector in Shenzhen. Consequently, has been on top of GDP ranking of Chinese provinces for two decades. Moreover, this FTZ works on further integration of Mainland China with Hong Kong and Macau and exporting the huge number of products that has been produced in Southern China. Also, its purpose is to build a new financial cooperation system in the region. Focus: Finance industry, customs clearance and maritime routes to Africa and Europe.



The Fuijan FTZ is located next to Xiamen, and will yield a lot of benefits linking to Taiwan. Nowadays, Fujian and Taiwan’s economies are very linked, resulting in a lot of economic interaction. It will promote free-flow of goods between Taiwan and Mainland China. Consequently, many benefits are for Taiwan entities. Examples are easier visa’s, encouraged construction projects and providing foreign bookkeeping services. Furthermore, Fujian’s rich land and labor resources have a great advantage to labor intensive industries. Fujian’s specification is to create easy entry barriers to attract more Taiwanese companies. Its dual channel of loan business for both sides is also a special advantage for Xiamen. Focus: Trade with Taiwan, production services and high-end service sector.

In 2016 Chongqing, Zhejiang, Hubei, Henan, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Liaoning were given approval to develop new Free Trade Zones, taking the national total to 11. The benifits of doing business inside the zones are: 1, Choosing a virtual office instead of a real one; 2, Procedures registering in a FTZ are much quicker and easier; 3, Less – or no – (import/export) taxes; 4, Easier conversion from RMB to foreign currencies; 5, Special customs monitoring system: 6, No import tax when imported into the FTZ; 7, Bonded warehouses; and 8, Broadening of investment horizons.


Population1,373,541,278 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 17.1% (male 126,732,020/female 108,172,771)
15-24 years: 13.27% (male 97,126,460/female 85,135,228)
25-54 years: 48.42% (male 339,183,101/female 325,836,319)
55-64 years: 10.87% (male 75,376,730/female 73,859,424)
65 years and over: 10.35% (male 67,914,015/female 74,205,210) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 36.6%
youth dependency ratio: 23.5%
elderly dependency ratio: 13%
potential support ratio: 7.7% (2015 est.)
Median agetotal: 37.1 years
male: 36.2 years
female: 38.1 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.43% (2016 est.)
Birth rate12.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate7.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanizationurban population: 55.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 3.05% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities - populationShanghai 23.741 million; BEIJING (capital) 20.384 million; Chongqing 13.332 million; Guangdong 12.458 million; Tianjin 11.21 million; Shenzhen 10.749 million (2015)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.15 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.14 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 12.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 75.5 years
male: 73.5 years
female: 77.9 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.6 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate84.6% (2006)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.1% (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS780,000 (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 93% of population
total: 95.5% of population
urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 7% of population
total: 4.5% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 86.6% of population
rural: 63.7% of population
total: 76.5% of population
urban: 13.4% of population
rural: 36.3% of population
total: 23.5% of population (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: Japanese encephalitis
soil contact disease: hantaviral hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) (2016)
Nationalitynoun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groupsHan Chinese 91.6%, Zhuang 1.3%, other (includes Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai and other nationalities) 7.1%
note: the Chinese Government officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups (2010 est.)
ReligionsBuddhist 18.2%, Christian 5.1%, Muslim 1.8%, folk religion 21.9%, Hindu < 0.1%, Jewish < 0.1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 52.2%
note: officially atheist (2010 est.)
LanguagesStandard Chinese or Mandarin (official; Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)
note: Zhuang is official in Guangxi Zhuang, Yue is official in Guangdong, Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, Kyrgyz is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.4%
male: 98.2%
female: 94.5% (2015 est.)
People - notein October 2015, the Chinese Government announced that it would change its rules to allow all couples to have two children instead of just one, as mandated in 1979; the new policy was implemented on 1 January 2016 to address China’s rapidly aging population and economic needs
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2014)
Education expendituresNA
Maternal mortality rate27 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight3.4% (2010)
Health expenditures5.5% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density1.49 physicians/1,000 population (2011)
Hospital bed density3.8 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate7.3% (2014)