In the five years since President Xi Jinping first proposed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), facilitating the flow of free trade has been a key aspect of the initiative.
Since its establishment, China has been committed to lowering trade barriers along the Belt and Road route, making it a major trading partner of most of the countries involved.
As trade has developed, certain products have emerged as being particularly popular among the Belt and Road countries.
While many may associate “made in China” with high-speed rail or clothing, the top three products exported from China along the BRI route are computers, phone equipment and integrated circuits.
The popularity of these products reflects the rapid development currently underway along the Belt and Road route, with many up-and-coming tech markets emerging and forging highly reciprocal demand with China.
When it comes to phone and computing equipment, Chinese products are particularly sought after in countries like South Korea, India and the UAE.
By the second quarter of 2018, Chinese mobile phone brands had taken up around half of the Indian smartphone market, an incredibly dynamic sector riding on fast growth and high demand from a young and increasingly prosperous population.
China is the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones and computers, producing 90 percent of the world’s total.
According to data from research company Gartner, in the second quarter of 2018, three Chinese companies — Huawei, Xiaomi and OPPO — were among the world’s five biggest-selling brands in terms of sales volume.
Huawei has been particularly successful in its global expansion, overtaking Apple to become the world’s No. 2 smartphone brand behind Samsung.
With increasing investment in research and development, “Made in China” is no longer a label connected to low-cost mass labor, but a brand in its own right driven by innovation.
While computers and phone equipment have been the two most popular BRI exports for six consecutive years since 2013, integrated circuits, regarded as the keystones to modern technology, surpassed oil in 2015 to become the No. 3 export from China to the Belt and Road countries.
China’s growing prowess in the integrated circuit sector comes after the establishment of the National Integrated Circuitry Investment Fund in 2014, which has pumped billions of US dollars’ worth of investment into some 50 domestic chip manufacturers, according to China Daily.