South Korea's Share of China's Imports Hits 30-Year Low

January 30, 2024

South Korea’s Share of China’s Imports Hits 30-Year Low

Data released on January 28th reveals that South Korean products accounted for 6.3% of China’s total imports in 2023, reaching the lowest level since 1993 when it was 5.2%. The data was retrieved by the Korea International Trade Association, one of the largest trade communities in South Korea. A crucial factor in China-South Korea trade is semiconductors, as Korean exports of chips decreased by 30.6% to US$36.1 billion in 2023, reflecting the ongoing technology competition between China and the US.

China experienced a high demand for importing chips during the rapid expansion of the country’s phone and automobile industries in the early 21st century. However, due to the trade war initiated by the US, China was compelled to strive for self-reliance in chip supply. As a long-time ally of the US, South Korea faced pressure to limit its chip exports to China. Furthermore, the global COVID pandemic and subsequent economic downturn in recent years have also affected the IT industry as market demand declined.


Over 140 Million Train Tickets Sold for Spring Festival Travel Season

According to data retrieved on January 28th from China’s national railway operator, over 143.505 million train tickets have been sold for the upcoming Spring Festival travel season, known as “chun-yun,” representing a year-on-year increase of 107.2%. “12306,” the official website of China Railway, the state’s rail operator, has reported the highest daily sales of 20.901 million tickets and the highest daily website visits of 83.88 billion times.

Named after the Chinese New Year, “chun-yun” is often considered the largest annual human migration in the world as millions of Chinese nationals travel to reunite with their families. To meet the enormous demand for transportation capacity, China’s authorities have accelerated passenger railway construction since the 1980s, building upon the freight rails initially constructed for the heavy industry sector in the 1950s. As of the end of 2023, China had over 159,000 km of railways, the second-longest network in the world.


Former High-Ranking Official Highlights the Future of Chinese Economy

In a recent interview, Zhang Xiaoqiang, former deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Executive Vice Chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, pointed out the surging popularity of the ice and snow economy in places like Harbin. He noted that during the short New Year’s holiday period alone, a staggering 6 billion yuan in tourism revenue was generated, a fact that should offer insights and highlight the potential for consumption in ice and snow tourism.

During the interview, Zhang emphasized that the Central Economic Work Conference had mentioned the need to cultivate and grow new types of consumption. As for how to achieve this cultivation, he suggested that first and foremost, there is a need to stabilize and expand traditional consumption. For example, as China enters an aging society, there should be a significant focus on developing the domestic services.

Zhang’s comments reflect a broader strategic vision for tapping into novel sectors of the economy to spur consumption, particularly in tourism sectors like those exemplified by Harbin’s ice and snow tourism, which has recently caught national attention. The substantial revenue from this sector suggests a vast untapped market potential that could become a significant contributor to China’s economic growth if properly nurtured.

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