Financial TimesFinancial Times

Resurgent Chinese travel would reset the country’s global image

By Leo Lewis

04 Jan 2023 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

The resumption of Chinese overseas travel may have a financial impact far beyond sightseeing and shopping, according to this FT column. It could also bolster the case for slowing down deglobalization.

In its pre-Covid prime, the total value of Chinese worldwide travel was roughly the size of Portugal’s gross domestic product, or just over a quarter of a trillion dollars. The number of Chinese who made trips outside the mainland in 2019 — some 155mn people — represented a population slightly larger than Russia’s. In that same year, Chinese overseas spending on luxury goods was larger than the current $90bn market capitalisation of General Electric.

The resurrected form of this collective globetrotting titan, whether it comes back formidable or faltering, will be economically significant either way. More powerful, though, is its potential to reset certain views of China that have formed during the absence of its travelling avatars.

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