The Fortune magazine Global 500 annual list of the world’s largest companies by revenue has always been a high-profile, headline-grabbing snapshot of global business. This year, however, it’s also a snapshot of our emerging geo-economic order.

For the first time in the three decade history of the list, US companies do not comprise the largest number on the list. That distinction goes to China.

Clifton Leaf, Editor-in-Chief, of Fortune magazine put that into perspective when he wrote, “there were precisely zero Global 500 companies based in mainland China in 1990 when we began our survey. Today there are more giant for-profit enterprises there than anywhere else on earth.” Three of the top five largest companies in the world are Chinese — Sinopec Group, State Grid, and China National Petroleum.

The Fortune 500 Global list includes state-owned enterprises and ranks companies by total revenue. Thus, those tech-heavy companies that top market capitalization lists are not as prominent in the Global 500. In compiling the list, the editors included Hong Kong as part of the mainland China list, but did not include Taiwan.

At final tally, China held 124 spots in the Global 500, while the U.S held 121 spots. In the year 2002, there were 197 U.S-based companies on the list. In 2003, there were only 11 China-based companies in the Fortune Global 500.

It has been a remarkable rise for Chinese enterprises. Here are the Top Ten China-based companies in the Global 500, with their China ranking on the left, total revenues following and their global ranking in parentheses.

Company/China Ranking Revenues in $ (Global Rank)
1.     Sinopec Group $407 Billion (2)
2.     State Grid $384 Billion (3)
3.     China National Petroleum Corp $379 Billion (4)
4.     China State Construction Engineering $206 Billion (18)
5.     Ping An Insurance $184 Billion (21)
6.     Industrial & Commercial Bank $177 Billion (24)
7.     China Construction Bank $159 Billion (30)
8.     Agricultural Bank of China $147 Billion (35)
9.     Bank of China $135 Billion (43)
10.  China Life Insurance $131 Billion (45)

Some other interesting findings from the Fortune Global 500

  • The world’s 500 largest companies generated $33.3 trillion in revenues and $2.1 trillion in profits in 2019. This year’s Fortune Global 500 companies employ 69.9 million people worldwide and are represented by 32 countries.
  • WalMart topped the global list again, with $524 billion in revenues
  • Five Chinese companies entered the Global 500 for the first time – Shanghai Construction Group, Shenzhen Investment Holdings,  Shenghong Holding Group, Shandong Iron and Steel Group, and Shanghai Pharmaceuticals Holding

To explore the Fortune 500 Global list, complete with some excellent interactive maps, go here

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