Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners

ByChao Cheng|China Business Opportunities


I prepared a short list of potentially profitable business opportunities in China for foreigners in the coming years.

You can take it as a reference in choosing your own niche markets.

Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners

Most Profitable Business Opportunities in China for Foreigners

1. Online Shops, Trading Platforms 

China’s e-commerce has recently surpassed the US’s in size of annual revenue. It’s no surprise that more and more foreign companies are targeting this highly lucrative and rapidly growing market.

Choose a right niche market in China,

Then, you can open a web store or a platform to make some good money.

For Online business in China, You can get the most advanced technology and convenient support.

Your Opportunities

  • Build your web store and sell overseas products to Chinese consumers. China has the most advanced technology that favors online businesses and trading platforms. Source your products from overseas, find out what Chinese consumers love and when they will buy from your website.
  • Act as a China Sourcing Agent : source products from China and sell them to the global customers. You can find most low cost products in China, leaving you with profitable margin to build your online business.
  • Design and develop your own products, and build up your own brand backed with strong manufacturing capabilities in China.

Key to Success

The Chinese Internet landscape is different from that in the West.

You will need

2. Online Business / Services

How to Start Your Online Business in China?

Many Chinese starting to offer online services since Chinese consumers/companies are more willing to pay for service than before.

It is especially easy for foreign small startups and freelancers to offer some special and unique values in the China market, and it would be easy if you are creative.

Your Opportunities

  • You can provide consulting services in various areas: business investigation, overseas study, legal etc.
  • You can sell academic essay writing service.
  • You can sell various design services if you are capable enough.
  • You can provide professional legal services.
  • You can provide professional photo editing services.
  • You can start a headhunting service in China.

It is a light asset business model.

The key is to Find Your Profitable Niche in China, and make full use of your skills, knowledge and resources.

You can start right now without spending a lot of time and money in obtaining licenses or certifications.

Key to Success

3. Chinese Online Marketing

Start your business to serve those businesses expanding their businesses into the China market.

Most foreign companies, big or small, will invest in Chinese online marketing to get traffic and leads.

Your Opportunities

It is also a light asset business model.

The key is to find a local Chinese online marketing agency to handle all the detailed work, you can focus on getting clients,

Key to Success

  • A reliable local partner in China

4. Education

The education market is a golden mine in China, and a prime area is left for foreign business.

All Chinese parents are willing to spend a lot on education for their children.

Private schools are expanding, and Chinese are also more willing to pay for their own self-improvements.

Various Potential Profitable Markets

  • English
  • Art
  • Music
  • Science
  • Foreign Tests
  • Technology


Teaching English in China

Foreign English teachers are given work in various institutions in China:

  • Kindergartens
  • Boarding Schools
  • Summer Camps
  • Universities
  • Private schools

Foreign English teachers earn more than average local English teachers.

An English tutoring service in China requires small capital to start and run, and it might be a good choice for you.

Online Education in China

Online courses are accessible to more people.

Online education is more scalable and it is booming now in China.

It will be a great opportunity in the next 20 years.

Your Opportunities

  • Offer after-school private tutoring services.
  • Starting your own evening English Classes for business people.
  • Teaching English online in China targeting on millions of Chinese students, kids, and businessmen aiming to improve their English.
  • Inspired by the best way to learn Chinese, 1on1 Chinese coaching is another business opportunity.

Key to Success

5. Tourism

Nowadays Chinese tourists are traveling everywhere.

Most middle class Chinese choose overseas destinations instead of overcrowded, traditional domestic destinations, especially in public holidays.

Chinese international travel will become a major source of growth for travel providers in destination countries.

Hotel, restaurants, air flights, car rentals, travel shops, tour guides and many other travel relevant market niches will benefit from this.

Your Opportunities

The travel and tourism sector in China is still relatively undeveloped, it offers some of the best opportunities in the consumer industry. Companies entering now will be able to set standards and guide consumers in their shopping behavior.

  • Overseas medical tourism
  • Overseas summer camp
  • Business tours
  • Theme tours
  • Invest in hotels in China
  • Promote your hotels to China travelers
  • Online booking services

Key to Success

6. Import and Export

You can either source from China and sell in the other part of the world, or sell products to Chinese big buyers.

Your Opportunities

  • Chao represents some biggest tree nuts buyers in China, most of them from LinAn, buying hundreds of containers every year for macadamias, pecans, walnuts, almonds.
  • It is not that difficult to find a factory in China to OEM your products and you can start building your own brands. Chao had successfully help foreign business owners to find Kitchenware, Wigs, Baby Shoes, Home Appliances.
  • Chinese meat processing factories bought a huge volume of beef/pork from overseas.

Key to Success

7. Healthcare

Chinese consumers are more health-conscious than in the past.

China Healthcare Market is still in an early stage, and Chinese people are expecting more diversified products and services.

The mainstream public healthcare system in China can not satisfy the needs of Chinese patients.

Many good nutritional supplements are not produced in China.

Your Opportunities

  • Foreign hospitals, clinics
  • high-end Medical second opinion
  • Aging market needs a lot of awesome products
  • Medical equipment
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Anti-pollution products
  • Overseas medical tourism

Key to Success

Healthcare is a minefield of regulation, corruption and/or other assorted difficulties.

8. Pharmaceutical

Everybody knows It is a very profitable business.

However, you should be ready to go through all the obstacles before acquiring a license.

You can access to a more broader market when you become a real local player.

9. Cosmetics, Skincare

Everybody wants to stay young and be beautiful.

Chinese consumers, especially women, spent tons of money on cosmetics and skincare products.

Take advantage of it.

10. Entertainment

China is the second-largest movie box office market in the world

11. Food / Wine

Everyone loves and needs food, and Chinese consumers are looking for better and safer food.

It is amazing!

All kinds of foreign food /wines in the China market sell well if they are allowed to be sold.

All our clients are fighting through the local requirements to get their food product into China.

Wine is especially popular in the large cities of China (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou) and has great potential given the increasing disposable income of local people.

Key to Success

12. Agriculture

China is facing continual food-safety crises and it will be a long-lasting challenge for Chinese.

New technology is encouraged in this field, especially on value added products.

China has relaxed its land-ownership rights for farmers.

We can expect quite some changes in the next decade.

Farmers will be able to trade their lands, which will give way to larger farms and provides a boost in rural communities’ economies.

Your Opportunities

  • horticulture
  • green houses
  • professional lighting equipment
  • productivity enhancing services including education and technology.

13. Logistics

Good supply chain management is urgently needed for many sectors in China.

You can find various niche markets in this area and it is very close to money return considering the booming e-tailing in China.

14. Wealth Management

High-net-worth individuals in China still has limited access to investment skills.

They are eager to broaden their investment portfolios.

Banking and wealth management have now become one of the biggest areas of foreign direct investment in China.

Your Opportunities

  • Financial services on banking, insurance, funds management, securities, securitisation and futures.
  • Overseas property sales

Key to Success

15. IT Services/Software

Most Chinese companies, either big or small,  want better software and IT services.

They will resort to external resources to solve their technology challenges.

For some specialized niche markets, you can make a fortune from Chinese buyers who needs professional services.

The biggest challenge in China is localization and pricing.

Many Chinese consumers and businesses are not willing to pay high prices for software while Chinese local developers sell software at rock bottom prices.

However, highly specialized industrial/commercial software is recalling selling well in China even with the same global pricing.

Key to Success

16. Clean Technology / Ecological

China has its pollution problems as we all know.

The air pollution and Deterioration of drinking water quality continue to be major problems in China.

China government is investing in the development of new green technologies to battle against pollution.

The green technology is a strategic industry in China and offers subsidies and incentives to foreign companies with the right solution.

Your Opportunities

  • Clean energy,
  • Anti-pollution products,
  • Afforestation projects,
  • Garden landscape engineering,
  • Waste water management
  • Water filtration systems.

Key to Success

It is challenging to get through some policy and connection problems before you can break into the China market.

17. Electronic Products and Accessories

Electronic products and accessories are generally cheap in China.

A mature profitable business model is to source electronic products and accessories like memory cards, batteries, USB cords and sell to the rest of the world.

How to Choose A Profitable Niche Market in China

Follow my 7-Step Formula in Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Profitable Niche Market in China to uncover your profitable business opportunities in China.

Furthermore, I’m sure you will get inspired by 101 China Business Ideas.

If you have some idea, you would need a right China Market Entry Strategy.

About the Author

Chao is recommended by Paypal to bring overseas brands into the China market. Now he coaches business owners to start up and grow their business in China. Author of Sell Online To China, How to Build A Right Website That Works In China, and a series of China Business Guides.

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(12) comments

wabule issac June 9, 2017


    Chao Cheng June 17, 2017

    Thanks, Wabule. Any opinion?

Cissé June 30, 2017

I want to start giving English courses i don’t know how to do becouse i live in Guinea first..

    Chao Cheng July 17, 2017

    Do you plan to offer online English teaching or you want to come over to China?

      Erdoo December 12, 2017

      hi i plan on teaching English after school hours and get products to be exported to my country Nigeria.

        Chao Cheng December 12, 2017

        That sounds good, Erdoo,
        Where do you want to start first?


uwimbabaziornella November 21, 2017

hey! i would like to teach them english online!! thank you

Ashok Singh December 22, 2017

Sir I want to know Is there any scope for Hindi classes and in Ayurveda in China ?

    Chao Cheng January 12, 2018

    It really needs some market research to find out.

Simon A. Karls January 10, 2018


I would like to sell “Live” and subscription based, self-paced English courses to the Chinese market.

We will be receiving RMB through a payment gateway which has all major credit cards and Alipay…Wechat will be added soon. Funds would go directly into Chinese bank account and then global teachers are paid via paypal from this account.

Since it is online, without a physical location in China, what are the requirements to setup legally and what is the estimated costs and timeline?

Thank you,

S. Karls
Toronto, Canada

    Chao Cheng January 12, 2018

    Hi, Simon,

    Technically it’s possible and there is a huge market in China for English online training.

    There are some strong competitors in the same market and this market had been nurtured by the pioneers.

    Legally speaking, you need to set up a Chinese local legal entity if China market matters for you.
    There are some specific requirements for companies dealing with online training, you may need to apply for ICP in China, some may need other licenses like internet publishing license, Internet culture operation license, and License for Dissemination of Audio-Visual Programs through Information Network according to different business models.

    For the payment gateway, it will be more easier if you have Chinese local legal entity.
    But there are still some solutions for you as a foreign entity.

    Some business owners also start the same online business from overseas as a lightweight trial to test the market.
    But many failed because they did not have a longterm strategic plan in China and were unaware of the potential risks and weaknesses in the market.

    If you have some specific unique selling points, you can find really good golden mines from some vertical niche markets.

    It’s worth preparing a China market entry strategy before you move on.
    You will be able to know the necessary cost, efforts and time to be spent in different entry models, understand the market situation and make your best decision then.
    I would be happy to discuss further in details and help you succeed in the China market.

    best regards,


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