Stewarding business reinvention for high-quality growth

27th Annual Global CEO Survey China Report

  • Survey
  • March 27, 2024

PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey, now in its 27th edition, offers valuable insights into the current macroeconomic trends through the lens of thousands of CEOs across the globe. This year’s survey, the largest to date, encompasses the insights of 4,702 CEOs, including 215 from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong SAR.

Against the backdrop of China’s ongoing recovery from the past three years and the country’s green transition to meet its climate pledges, the China report explores how CEOs are recognising the pressing need for business reinvention and starting to embrace innovative solutions, such as generative AI, to transform their business models in the face of profound changes in the market. 


of Chinese mainland CEOs are highly optimistic about their revenue growth in the coming year


of Chinese CEOs believe their business will no longer be economically viable after a decade


of Chinese organisations have charted but not yet started to implement their climate action plan


of Chinese CEOs believe Generative AI will improve the quality of their company’s products and services

What do Chinese CEOs anticipate for the economy in a volatile market?

Despite recent economic hurdles that brought overall weaker corporate growth and revenues in China, Chinese companies remain cautiously optimistic about the country’s future and, to a lesser extent, their own prospects as well. This is greatly attributable to a slew of new economic policies by the government aiming at buoying market confidence and attracting foreign investments through the easing of market access for foreign companies. Although the effects of those measure have not yet translated into the economy, foreign companies are showing interest to renew their commitment to the Chinese market.

Concurrently, although Western economies and Japan remain major trade partners, we are observing a growing interest for Chinese companies to invest regionally in the RCEP and, to a lesser extent, in the BRI countries. Government policies have also been instrumental in incentivising more trade and investment in the region. This opens new expansion avenues for Chinese firms that may have not otherwise invested abroad and present attractive diversification options for the ones already operating internationally.

How are CEOs ensuring economic viability in the longer term?

In a continuation to last year’s trend, Chinese CEOs feel they are more than ever in need to rethink their business models in order for their companies to survive. The main drivers for change in China are government regulations, shifting consumer habits, and technological innovation, however we see demographics and climate related issues taking an increasingly important role in the need of Chinese businesses for transformation, highlighting the importance of these rising issues. The government has here again implemented new policies and regulations in order to address those underlying issues, creating new investment opportunities through incentives and easing loan policies.

Chinese CEOs are reporting on average they are conducting more actions than their global counterparts to reinvent their business. This highlights the keen awareness of Chinese CEOs of much needed transformational changes and a willingness to take any type of measures to undertake them. However, Chinese companies still experience major hurdles in transforming themselves, especially when it comes to government regulations, supply chain issues in a still restrictive trade environment, and the lack of support from certain stakeholders.

Are Chinese CEOs ready to manage the impact of climate change?

Despite declaring on average that they are being subject to climate related issues in a greater extent, Chinese companies haven’t implemented as many climate related actions than their global counterparts. Although there is a genuine interest in implementing green measures, timid growth and profit margins in recent years have stalled Chinese companies’ transformational investments, especially in ESG which often imply lower returns. This is in line with a broader sentiment that has stalled the progress of sustainable investments around the world on the face of international economic headwinds.

The Chinese government has been on its part consistently pushing new reforms to incentivise the public and private sector to invest more in green measures. Years of policy making have created large avenues for businesses’ green transformation and propelled China to a position of global sustainable energy powerhouse. With excellent progress in developing solar and wind power, electric vehicles and power batteries, China is a champion of the world in clean energy.

How are Chinese CEOs preparing for the AI revolution?

Chinese CEOs are quite bullish on GenAI, recognising the benefits of the transformational nature of this technology. This is in line with the underlying desire of Chinese CEOs to reinvent their business models by a wide range of measures, and especially tech-related solutions. Meanwhile, the Chinese government spearheads global regulations on GenAI in order to foster a healthy environment for the market to grow in, creating a springboard for Chinese companies to leap from and start investing, fulfilling their transformational goals in the process.

Chinese CEOs acknowledge that the transformation towards AI would bring many changes within their company and the industry they are operating in as a whole. However, they do not perceive risks and challenges as being as important, strengthening overall market enthusiasm compared to global sentiment but maybe overenthusiastically glancing over the inherent dangers of AI technology.

Implications for business leaders

  • Chinese businesses keep looking at foreign countries as vectors for growth and brand building, especially countries within the RCEP and BRI. As geopolitical tensions grow, diversifying foreign investment destinations is a sustainable brand building strategy.
  • As domestic supply chains are modernising and international ones are increasingly disturbed by external factors, Chinese CEOs are taking proactive measures to bolster their supply chains by diversifying their international presence and adopting a more regional model.
  • Companies need to adapt to the many changes generative AI technology entices. This need is fitting into a broader transformational imperative that CEOs must address to future-proof their enterprises for the years to come.
  • Chinese companies are facing an imperative to reshape their business model or risk not being viable in under a decade. Businesses seem to have adopted product and services innovation or new technology adoption as a proactive solution. CEOs will have to chart a course for their enterprise to reinvent itself.
  • Chinese companies’ short term sustainability ambitions have been dented by various factors. Businesses taking climate actions are the ones with the most enduring business models, spurring Chinese companies to make their business more sustainable in every sense of the word.
  • A multitude of opportunities emerge as companies take proactive steps towards energy efficiency and embrace the power of AI. AI integration with ESG initiatives holds the potential to bring positive change by making data-driven decisions and manage risks effectively.

‘Chinese enterprises have long regarded international markets as vehicles for growth and brand development. In particular, the countries and regions within the scope of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have increasingly become popular destinations for China’s trade and investment. Against the backdrop of Chinese enterprises coping with an increasingly tense geopolitical environment, diversifying foreign investment destinations appears to be an optimal choice for generating sustainable market share growth and building brand influence.’

Thomas Leung, Managing Partner – Markets, PwC China

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27th Annual Global CEO Survey China Report

Contact us

Thomas Leung

Thomas Leung

Managing Partner - Markets, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (10) 6533 2838 / +[852] 2289 8288

James Chang

James Chang

Managing Partner of Regional Economic Clusters and South Markets, Shenzhen Office Lead Partner, China Financial Services Leader, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (755) 8261 8882

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