China is the largest consumer market of any country in the world: With 1.37 billion citizens and counting, it has 18% of the global population. This has drawn the attention of some of the world’s largest companies seeking to capitalize on its rich opportunities. Even more enticing are its 751 million internet users, many of whom are part of the country’s emerging middle class.
A number of U.S. technology companies have been effectively shut out of China’s growing internet market; among them are Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG). Chinese regulators took to the podium at the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva recently and said both companies would be welcome — but some wonder if the price will be too high.
Operating in China’s internet space comes with a cost.