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Elon Musk claims there are ‘far more’ smart, hardworking people in China than in the US

Elon Musk claims there are ‘far more’ smart, hardworking people in China than in the US
Elon Musk claims there are ‘far more’ smart, hardworking people in China than in the US

The U.S. has long held the title of the world's leading economic powerhouse, boasting the highest GDP both overall and per capita.

However, China's rapid ascent is reshaping the global economic landscape. According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, this formidable economic power from the east possesses a distinct advantage over the U.S.

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“The sheer number of really smart, hardworking people in China is incredible,” Musk said during a 2023 interview with podcaster Lex Fridman. “How many smart, hardworking people are there in China? There’s far more of them there than there are here, I think, in my opinion, and they’ve got a lot of energy.”

The tech billionaire highlighted the country’s infrastructural development.

“The architecture in China that’s in recent years is far more impressive than the U.S. I mean the train stations, the buildings, the high-speed rail, everything, it’s really far more impressive than what we have in the U.S.,” he noted. “I recommend somebody just go to Shanghai and Beijing, look at the buildings, and go take the train from Beijing to Xi’An, where you have the terracotta warriors.”

Over the past few decades, China has embarked on numerous ambitious projects, including the construction of the world's largest high-speed rail network, extensive modern highways, and countless bridges, including some of the longest in the world.

If Musk is right and China has a uniquely strong and dynamic workforce driving its economy, the country could present unique investment opportunities.

Unfortunately, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is less than 1% higher so far this year. According to a Reuters article from April, the stock market has struggled because the economic recovery remains bumpy and uneven, the real estate sector is in a prolonged downturn, pension and endowment funds in the U.S. and its allies have cut China’s exposure to avoid political risks and there's been a regulatory crackdown on the tech sector.

Here’s a look at two easy ways to tap into this growing market.

Invest in Chinese stocks

One of the most direct ways to capitalize on China's economic growth is through investing in Chinese companies. China's stock market, which includes major exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen, offers a wide array of opportunities in sectors such as technology, consumer goods, and renewable energy.

While there are complexities involved in international investing, quite a few Chinese companies are listed on American exchanges through American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), which allow U.S. investors to buy shares in foreign companies relatively easily.

For instance, investors can consider stocks like Alibaba (BABA), a dominant force in Chinese e-commerce, and Baidu (BIDU), the leading search engine provider in China.

Read more: ‘You didn’t want to risk it’: 80-year-old woman from South Carolina is looking for the safest place for her family’s $250,000 savings. Dave Ramsey responds

Invest in Chinese ETFs

If you don’t want to pick individual companies, another effective strategy for capitalizing on China's economic growth is through investing in exchange-traded funds. ETFs offer a more diversified approach than individual stocks because they hold a wide range of assets, reducing the risk associated with the performance of any single company.

These days, there are many ETFs that provide U.S. investors access to China — you can even choose whether you want exposure to the entire market or specific industries within China's expansive economy. Some popular names include the iShares China Large-Cap ETF (FXI), which focuses on large Chinese companies, and the KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF (KWEB), which targets China's fast-growing internet sector.

When considering investment in ETFs, it's important to be mindful of the associated fees. ETFs typically charge management fees and other expenses in exchange for managing the fund, and these costs can vary widely between funds. These fees can impact the overall return on your investment, making it essential to understand and consider them before committing your capital.


Keep in mind that although investing in Chinese companies through ADRs is convenient, it's been difficult for American investors to assess the true financial health and performance of Chinese companies.

The good news is the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) announced a series of measures to step up supervision of listed companies and vet initial public offering (IPO) applications. The regulator said it would crack down on securities fraud as well as accounting manipulation, reported Reuters

Investors should also be aware of risks associated with regulatory shifts, market volatility, and changes in U.S.-China relations, all of which could impact these investments.

Investors should be aware of these factors and may want to consult with a financial adviser to ensure these investments align with their overall financial goals and risk tolerance.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.