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China's High-tech Exports: Myth and Reality


  • Yuqing Xing

    (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)


China's leading position in high-tech exports is a myth created by outdated trade statistics, which are inconsistent with the trade based on global supply chains. Assembled high-tech products, made with imported key parts and components, accounted for 82% of China's high-tech exports. Current trade statistics mistakenly credit entire values of these assembled products to China, thus greatly inflate the export value. For instance, in 2009 China's export in the iPhone amounted US$4.6 billion, of which only 3.6% was the value added by Chinese workers; its annual export in laptop PC valued at US$52 billion, but assembly accounted for only 3% of the gross value. In addition, 83% of China's high-tech exports was attributed to foreign invested firms, in particular Taiwanese owned companies. Taiwan-IT companies have relocated 95% of their production/assembly capacity into and transferred mainland China to a top assembler of information and communication technology, such as laptop PCs, digital cameras and all i-products.

Suggested Citation

  • Yuqing Xing, 2011. "China's High-tech Exports: Myth and Reality," GRIPS Discussion Papers 11-05, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ngi:dpaper:11-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dollar, David & Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Mengistae, Taye, 2005. "Investment Climate and Firm Performance in Developing Economies," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(1), pages 1-31, October.
    2. A. R. Kemal, 1993. "Why Do Small Firms Fail to Graduate to Medium and Large Firms in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 32(4), pages 1249-1257.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Xi & Funke, Michael, 2013. "The dynamics of catch-up and skill and technology upgrading in China," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 38(PB), pages 465-480.
    2. John Whalley & Xiliang Zhao, 2010. "The Contribution of Human Capital to China's Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 16592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Xing, Yuqing, 2012. "Processing trade, exchange rates and China's bilateral trade balances," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 540-547.
    4. Yuqing Xing, 2011. "China’s exports in information communication technology and its impact on Asian countries," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 135-147, April.
    5. Xiao, Yangao & Tylecote, Andrew & Liu, Jiajia, 2013. "Why not greater catch-up by Chinese firms? The impact of IPR, corporate governance and technology intensity on late-comer strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 749-764.
    6. Sawhney, Aparna & Kahn, Matthew E., 2012. "Understanding cross-national trends in high-tech renewable power equipment exports to the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 308-318.

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    China; high-tech; value added; iPhone;

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