China has overtaken its trade war rival, the US, for the first time in a new list of the world’s largest companies by revenue. Since the Global 500 debut in 1990, the list has, until now, been dominated by American firms.
As the world balance of power shifts, Chinese companies took 129 spots, including 10 Taiwanese companies, while the US came second with 121 American businesses included in the list released by Fortune on Monday.
The veteran of the rankings, Walmart, secured the top position for the sixth consecutive year, and for the fourteenth time since 1995, having generated more than $500 billion in revenue. The US retail giant is followed by China’s largest state-owned oil and gas company Sinopec Group, whose sharp gains in both revenue and profits last year managed to dodge geopolitical headwinds amid the simmering trade war between Washington and Beijing.
Royal Dutch Shell, which netted around $396.556 billion, secured the third spot. Two more places in the top 5 are occupied by Chinese state-owned firms, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and power-supplier State Grid with $392.976 billion and $387.056 billion in revenue respectively.
Despite Chinese companies surpassing US firms by number, they are still behind in terms of total revenues, accounting for 25.6 percent of the Global 500 total, compared with 28.8 percent for the US. The total revenue for all companies named in the list amounts to $32.7 trillion, 9 percent more than a year before, and equal to more than one-third of the world’s GDP.
Among the 25 newcomers was Saudi Aramco, that was recently revealed as the world’s most profitable company. Out of 25 newly added companies, 13 are from China, including China Development Bank, train manufacturer CRRC Corp, home appliance giant Zhuhai Gree Electric Appliances Co, and smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is the youngest firm on the top 500 list in 2019.
Blacklisting and the existing trade tensions between the two largest economies have not stopped Huawei from climbing up the ratings, jumping from last year’s 72nd spot to 61st place.
“Whether the 21st century becomes the Chinese Century in the full sense – with China dominating culture, ideals, and concepts of human rights and human nature – remains to be seen,” Fortune wrote. “But at least in business, the Chinese Century is growing intensely more Chinese, and faster every day.”