Russell Flannery, senior editor and the Shanghai bureau chief of Forbes magazine. contends implicitly that Forbes Global 2000 annual ranking provides more insights than the 500 by Fortune, and I tend to agree.
Russell points out in ‘An Interesting Window Into China’s Rise In Global Business’ that the Forbes Global 2000 is:
An annual ranking of 2,000 companies published for several years allows for the discovery of many more interesting global trends than a compilation of only, say, 500 members. (Sorry, Fortune.)
Besides well-deserved displays of team spirit, Russell also notes:
…the number of members from China has increased from 44 in 2007 to 136 in 2012. In other words, China accounts for 6.8% of the list, compared with 2.2% only five years ago. From that alone, you can see how Chinese businesses have outperformed much of the world through the global economic crisis.
There are many other insights. Because of that 2,000-company-deep analysis, you can also track the rise of the private sector and entrepreneurs in a country that not long ago was overwhelmingly made up of government-owned businesses. At least a fifth of the China list members this year, including Internet giants Baidu and Netease, as well as Caterpillar equipment rival Sany Heavy Industry, are private sector companies.
Yasheng Huang of MIT and author of Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics has persuaded me that the invisible hand of the Chinese state reaches farther into the ‘private sector’ than Russell may agree. But, that difference aside, the Forbes Global 2000 is well worth following, every year and year on year.