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Oil Giant Heads List of Top-500 Firms
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An updated list of China's top 500 enterprises was announced at the weekend, with over 100 new arrivals included.

The China National Petroleum Corp took first place thanks to its turnover of US$45.8 billion last year. The corporation is the world's ninth-biggest petroleum company and was third in last year's Chinese list.

Oil company Sinopec remained in second place and phone company China Mobile moved up from sixth place to third.

The top 500 list was included in the Report on the Development of Chinese Enterprises published at the weekend by the China Enterprise Confederation. The voluminous annual report also analyses a wide range of topics, such as foreign companies in China, the reform of State-owned enterprises, company management and China's entrepreneurs.

The China National Petroleum Corp is ranked 69 on the global list of Fortune Global 500 companies.

The report said State-owned companies account for 73.6 per cent of the national top 500 list. Only 69 private enterprises appear on the list.

Hu Xinhuan, deputy general director of the China Enterprise Confederation, said China had only three enterprises on the world top 500 in 1995 but the number increased to 12 last year.

He said Chinese enterprises have made rapid progress in sharpening their competitiveness.

But China's enterprises are still small in scale compared with international giants, according to a confederation report.

For example, the volume of business of the China National Petroleum Corp accounted for only 18.58 per cent of Wal-Mart, the US-based international retailer and the world's largest company.

The last company on China's top 500 list -- the Ningbo Port Management Corp based in East China's Zhejiang Province -- earned only 2.94 per cent of the turnover secured by the Japanese company Kawasaki, the last on world top 500 list.

Ma Fucai, general manager of the China National Petroleum Corp, said his company is focusing on building itself into a much more competitive multinational corporation.

Other Chinese enterprises are working towards similar goals, thanks partly to the government's decision to develop between 30 and 50 State-owned companies into firms that can compete with international giants.

Shao Ning, vice-chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said: "We still need time to achieve this goal.'' The commission, a newly established government department under the State Council, is the owner of billions of US dollars worth of Chinese State assets.

He said the State-owned firms would undergo further reform "soon.'' He did not go into details but said the government will try every means to "make them really market-oriented.''

Zhang Yanning, vice-chairman of the China Enterprise Directors Association, has suggested that Chinese enterprises should stress core competitiveness, efficient management of human resources and brand strategies.

Of 100 world-famous brands named in the US-based magazine Business Week last year, six were from Asia but none of them were from China.

Researchers and economists have also urged more measures to be introduced to encourage China's private enterprises to improve their core strength.

(China Daily August 25, 2003)

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