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From Alibaba's Research Arm, Predictions for the Future of Chinese Tech

The current troubles will give way to growth.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Though the Chinese stock market sucks right now, it’s still potentially the number one economy in the world.

And eventually, it’ll be a consumption-driven economy that more closely resembles the United States than China’s latter-day manufacturing base. Alibaba, the Chinese tech giant that’s worth more than $181 billion, is one of the companies whose long-term interests are most wrapped up in the ongoing transformation of the country’s economy.

Alibaba, through its in-house think tank, the Aliresearch, recently held a summit to discuss what the next few years will look like for the Chinese economy. Specifically, they talked about online retail, international trade and the so-called sharing economy.

For the occasion, a panel of judges assembled a list of ten forecasts submitted by analysts, think tanks and investment firms. Here are some of their findings:

  • China’s online retail market will grow to RMB 10 trillion ($1.5 trillion) by 2020 (Bain & Co.): By 2020, 22 percent of the country’s retail will take place online, 70 percent of which will be happening on mobile.
  • China retail consumption will grow by $2.3 trillion in under five years, nearly half of which will be online (by Boston Consulting Group): In spite of its stock market troubles and slow growth, the Chinese consumer market is will grow 50 percent to $6.5 trillion by 2020.
  • The Chinese market for 3D printers will be around $15 billion by 2020 (Data Center of China Internet): Although 3D printers might get their start in enterprise, eventually they will be used mostly by everyday households.
  • Within five years, the Internet will be everywhere in rural China (China Academy for Rural Development, Zhejiang University)
  • Chinese regulation of the Internet will morph into a “soft law” system of governance (the Institute of Information Society Studies): As more and more Chinese people get online, the Chinese government will be harder pressed to tightly control the Internet economy like it has thus far. To keep state control of business, however, expect the government to work closely with the Internet companies that it does allow to do business in the country.

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