iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision tops Hurun list of companies outside mainland China that have contributed most to Chinese economy

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Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn and famous for assembling iPhones, has topped a Hurun list of the top 100 companies from outside mainland China that have contributed most to its economy.

The companies on Hurun Largest Foreign and Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan Companies in China 2021 had sales of US$900 billion in China last year, equivalent to about 6 per cent of its annual gross domestic product, and 2.5 million employees in the country, according to the report, which was released at the Hurun Global 500 CEO Conference in Shanghai on Thursday.

“To put this list together, we used China sales as the core measure for assessing which companies made the list, together with the number of employees in China. Mainly because these seem to be the criteria most valued by local governments,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report. The cut-off to make the list required a company to have annual sales in China of US$1.5 billion and 5,000 employees, he added.

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China’s economy, the world’s second largest, has staged an impressive recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, growing 9.8 per cent in the first three quarters of the year compared to the same period in 2020.

The new list highlighted companies that “are perhaps the closest thing to economic role models on how to do business in China”, Hoogewerf said.

Top 10 largest foreign and Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan companies in China 2021



Main Industry


Hon Hai Precision

Electronic components



Carmaker and auto components



Carmaker and auto components



Consumer electronics



Carmaker and auto components


Charoen Pokphand




Financial services


Robert Bosch

Auto components



Consumer electronics



Carmaker and auto components

Source: Hurun Report

About a third of the firms listed come from the United States. About 61 per cent were consumer brands, while the rest were business-to-business firms.

Hon Hai Precision, which is also the world’s largest maker of electronic components, opened its first mainland Chinese plant in Shenzhen in 1988. It has since become the world’s largest electronics manufacturer as well as the world’s largest processing manufacturer, with more than 600,000 employees in China, according to Hurun. It ranked 284th in this year’s Hurun Global 500 with a value of US$59 billion.

The automotive industry had the most number of companies on the list with a total of 16 firms, while carmakers Volkswagen, General Motors (GM) and Toyota ranked among the top five.

German carmaker Volkswagen ranked second on the list, having entered the Chinese market in 1984. It has increasingly turned its focus to autonomous driving and low-carbon travel in recent years. Volkswagen and its joint ventures have more than 100,000 employees in China, according to Hurun.

US carmaker GM ranked third. The carmaker and its joint ventures have 58,000 employees in China. GM ranked 181st in the Hurun Global 500 with a value of US$89.6 billion.

“When looking at the history these companies have with China, it might surprise some to see quite how long these companies have been engaging with China. One in five of the Hurun list first came to China over 100 years ago, with the average 57 years,” Hoogewerf said.

About 34 companies were from the US, followed by 14 from Japan, 12 each from the UK and Germany and 8 from France, according to the report. The top five countries accounted for 80 per cent of the companies on the list.

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