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How Can Singapore Businesses Tap Into China’s Digital Economy?

How Can Singapore Businesses Tap Into China’s Digital Economy?

China’s digital economy has been experiencing explosive growth over the past few years. By 2021, its wider digital economy (combined value of technology products and digital inputs) had swelled to a staggering US$7.1 trillion, dwarfing entire national economies.¬†

This enormous figure represents nearly 40% of China’s overall GDP, a significant leap from the 20.9% reported in 2012. This exponential growth did not occur by chance.¬†

It is primarily driven by technological advancements, an increasingly interconnected population, and government policies designed to support and foster innovation. 

As a result, businesses based on digital technologies, including e-commerce, online entertainment, and digital services, have thrived, reshaping the entire Chinese economic landscape.

China’s Digital Economy Policies

The Chinese government, recognising the significance of the digital economy, has implemented detailed plans to continue to nurture this sector. 

One core blueprint is the 14th Five-Year Plan on Digital Economy Development, which spells out China’s ambition to expand the influence of its digital economy.¬†

The plan’s primary focus is to increase the output of core industries within the digital economy to 10% of the national GDP by 2025. To be clear, the core digital economy differs from the wider digital economy, defined as the direct value-add of software, information transfer, and information technology services.

To achieve this goal, China plans to stimulate digital innovation, improve the digitalisation of its supply chain, and bolster the infrastructure that underpins the digital economy.

The Compatibility of Singapore and China’s Economies

As one of the Asian Tigers, Singapore has long boasted a robust and well-diversified economy. With a particular emphasis on the service sector, Singapore has made its global mark in industries such as finance, logistics, and tourism. 

However, over the years, it has also developed a burgeoning tech sector, fuelled by a highly educated workforce and supportive government policies.

Singapore’s interest in foreign markets, including China’s digital economy, is therefore not surprising. These markets present opportunities for expansion, diversification, and potentially high returns for Singapore businesses.

Investment Opportunities for Singapore Businesses in China

Let us take a closer look at some of the most promising investment opportunities for Singaporean businesses in China at the moment:

Industrial Digital Transformation

As China moves forward with its 14th Five-Year Plan on Digital Economy Development, there’s an increased emphasis on the digital transformation of its traditional industries. Singapore businesses, typically already known for their digital acumen, could significantly contribute to this area.¬†

From providing cloud-based solutions to supporting the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain management, there is ample room for Singaporean businesses to make their mark. 

This digitalisation is not limited to large-scale corporations, but also encompasses small and medium enterprises (SMEs), expanding the potential market.

Sustainable Development

In recent years, China has been intensifying its efforts towards sustainable development. This commitment is reflected in policies aimed at reducing environmental pollution and promoting the use of renewable energy. 

For example, China has invested over US$50 billion in new photovoltaic (PV) supply capacity ‚Äď ten times more than Europe ‚ąí and created more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs across the solar PV value chain since 2011.

Singaporean companies that specialise in green technologies, such as solar power systems, energy-efficient appliances, and electric vehicles, could find substantial opportunities in this sector. 

Additionally, companies providing consultancy services in sustainable practices and resource management could also find their expertise in demand as China moves towards its sustainability goals.

Related Read: How Feasible Is Solar Energy in Southeast Asia?

Sustainable Consumer Products

China’s middle class had grown from 400 million people 20 years ago, to 707 million, or more than half of China’s population, by 2018. With that expanding middle class and rising disposable income levels, there is a growing demand for high-quality, sustainable consumer products. 

These products span a broad range, from organic food items to premium personal care products, from environmentally friendly household goods to electric appliances. 

Singapore’s reputation for high-quality, trustworthy products could provide an edge for Singaporean businesses entering this competitive market.¬†

Moreover, the e-commerce boom in China presents a convenient and cost-effective avenue for Singaporean businesses to reach Chinese consumers.

Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

China’s focus on the development of big data and AI infrastructure presents a significant opportunity for Singaporean firms.¬†

Companies with expertise in data analytics, AI development, and machine learning could partner with Chinese companies to develop innovative solutions. 

This could span across various industries, from retail, where personalised marketing is gaining ground, to finance, where predictive analytics can help mitigate risks.


The rise of the digital economy in China has led to an increased need for innovative financial technology solutions. Currently, 66% of transactions in China are done via mobile phone, with cash accounting for 23% and bank cards only 7%. 

Singapore, with its strong fintech sector, is well-positioned to tap into this demand. Opportunities could range from mobile payment solutions and peer-to-peer lending platforms to insurtech, and robo-advisors.


With its aged population expected to rise to 30%, or more than 400 million people, by 2035, China’s healthcare industry is ripe for digital disruption.¬†

Singaporean businesses specialising in MedTech, such as telemedicine platforms, digital health records, AI-powered diagnostic tools, and health-focused wearables, could find substantial market opportunities. 

China’s focus on improving healthcare accessibility and quality could drive the demand for innovative MedTech solutions.

Related Read: What Possibilities Will the Southeast Asia Medtech Market Bring?

Singapore-China Case Study: Suzhou Industrial Park 

To better understand the potential and practicalities of Singaporean businesses investing in China’s digital economy, it’s worth considering the case study of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP).¬†

This modern and open industrial park is a joint venture between China and Singapore, and it’s notable for its focus on emerging industries such as biomedicine, nanotechnology, and AI.

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, SIP has achieved significant milestones. It has seen its industries’ total output value surpass US$70 billion in 2020, with high-tech enterprises contributing more than 60 per cent of that number.¬†

This illustrates how innovative industries are becoming central to the wider economy, not to mention how Singapore and China have already proven to be mutually beneficial partners.

Where to Next for Singapore Businesses Wishing to Capitalise on China’s Growth

The breadth of China’s digital economy offers an exciting array of opportunities for Singapore businesses.¬†

However, navigating a foreign investment landscape, particularly one as expansive as China’s, requires an in-depth understanding of market dynamics, regulatory frameworks, and strategic positioning.

This is precisely where InCorp’s expertise lies. Our experienced team is adept at:

  • Guiding businesses through their investment journey
  • Helping them decode the complexities of the Chinese digital economy
  • Managing potential risks
  • Fully seizing opportunities¬†

Contact InCorp today and take your business to new heights in the vibrant, fast-growing digital economy of China.

FAQs About Tapping into China's Digital Economy

  • China's digital economy is the second-largest globally and is still growing, thanks to advanced digital infrastructure, a thriving start-up ecosystem, and favourable government policies. The sheer scale and diversity of the digital market in China present numerous opportunities for Singapore businesses in sectors such as industrial digital transformation, sustainable development, consumer products, software development, and IT support management, among others.
  • While there are abundant opportunities, foreign investors may face challenges related to regulatory measures, localisation requirements, and stiff competition from local businesses. It's crucial for Singapore businesses to understand these challenges and prepare suitable strategies to navigate them.
  • InCorp provides comprehensive support to Singapore businesses looking to invest in China's digital economy. This includes providing insights into the intricacies of the Chinese market, strategising entry approaches, managing potential risks, and helping businesses seize the available opportunities.
  • China's commitment to sustainable development presents opportunities for Singapore businesses specialising in green technologies, energy-efficient products, and sustainable consultancy services. The increasing demand for such solutions in China could open new avenues for growth and investment for these businesses.

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About the Author

Eric Chin

Eric Chin is the Group Chief Commercial Officer at InCorp Global, leading sales, marketing and consulting teams in 8 countries. With 11 years of corporate banking experience with HSBC and OCBC, Eric is highly skilled in creating market-entry strategies and structuring operations for diverse industries in the Asia-Pacific. He also advises fund managers and family offices on corporate structuring and tax incentives and has set up VCC structures for licensed fund managers.

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