U.S. No Longer Global Biz Leader, There’s a New #1 – China

China leads the world as suggested by this photo of Chinese petrochemical workers

Fortune just published its latest Global 500 ranking of the top companies in the world – and the results this year are earth-shaking. For the first time ever, since this list was launched in 1990, another country has more companies on the list of top companies than the U.S. And the bad news for the White House is that new #1 is China, the country with which it is currently in the midst of a high stakes trade war.

See how China has surpassed the U.S. in global top companies…

As Fortune puts it, “the world’s balance of power is shifting,” and shifting China’s way. On its current list of the 500 leading global companies, China has 129 of the largest corporations in the world by revenue (including 10 companies in Taiwan). The U.S. has 121 of the top global corporations.

Not only is this the first time since 1990 (the year Fortune launched this ranking) that America hasn’t had the top slot for large global corporations – it is most likely the first time since World War II that a country other than the U.S. has led the list, the magazine says. The significance of this achievement is clear to many, as China seeks to supersede the U.S. as the world’s largest superpower.

Business is Taking an Outsized Role

Fortune Global 500 logo

The world of business is taking an outsized role in China’s ambitions, as it seeks to challenge the U.S. for the lead in technological prowess – or as Fortune puts it: “the world’s economic life force: technology. China has boldly set goals to dominate key emerging technology fields, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.

Top 20 Companies from Fortune Global 500

RANK COMPANY REVENUES ($mil) % CHANGE
1 Walmart $514,405 2.8%
2 Sinopec Group $414,649.90 26,85
3 Royal Dutch Shell $396,556 27.2%
4 China National Petroleum $392,976 20.5%
5 State Grid $387,056 10.9%
6 Saudi Aramco $355,905 35.3%
7 BP $303,738 24.2%
8 Exxon Mobile $290,212 18.8%
9 Volkswagon $278,341.50 7%
10 Toyota Motor $272,612 2.8%
11 Apple $265,595 15.9%
12 Berkshire Hathaway $247,837 2.4%
13 Amazon.com $232,887 30.9%
14 UnitedHealth Group $226,247 12.5%
15 Samsung Electronics $221,579.40 4.5%
16 Glencore $219,754 6.9%
17 McKesson $214,319 2.9%
18 Daimler $197,515.30 6.6%
19 CVS Health $194,579 5.3%
20 Total $184,106 23.5%

China is not just talking the talk, they are walking the walk – as Strata-gee recently reported the country is outspending the world with massive government directed investments in artificial intelligence and the other technologies. And in a age when U.S. companies international patent filings are actually declining 0.9% in 2018, China filed 9.1% more international patents and as #2, they are breathing down the neck of the U.S.

China’s Star is Rising

The stakes are high – and China is playing the long game. President Xi Jinping has publicly said that by 2049 – the centennial of the communist revolution – China will be “fully developed, rich, and powerful.” China expert Graham Allison of Harvard told Fortune that in this goal, Xi means to be “unambiguously No. 1,” with a military “that can take on and defeat all adversaries.”

Whether Xi and China meets all of these goals remains to be seen. But right now…China is ascendant.

See the entire Fortune Global 500 list here…


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