China ETF Bets on Rising Middle-Class

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- China has been an important, yet controversial, investment destination for years.

Important because the country is spending money to modernize almost every aspect of people's lives, and controversial as the rest of the world tries to figure out whether there is a lending bubble. Also, China has frosty relations with the U.S. because of the currency peg, trade tariffs, the issue of Taiwan -- even the Dalai Lama.

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I have written about where money must be spent in China. The easiest path to do this is to tap into the country's effort to modernize, which has been under way for years but still has a way to go in terms of delivering a middle-class lifestyle to more people.

There are several exchange traded funds that play into this theme, including the new EG Shares China Infrastructure ETF ( CHXX). There are ETFs that invest in emerging-market infrastructure, not only China, and there are others that focus on specific sectors in China. Only the EG Shares fund combines the two.

The fund allocates money to nine industries within infrastructure, the largest ones being real estate management and development, at 23%; metals and mining, 21%; construction and engineering, 15%; and electrical equipment, 14%.

The inclusion of real estate will surprise some people, but the reasoning is interesting. China wants to bring a middle-class lifestyle to poorer and more rural parts of the country, mostly the western provinces. Part of this lifestyle includes shopping malls and restaurants, which will be built and run by real estate companies. EG Shares' chief investment officer, Richard Kang, made a point of mentioning the importance of lifestyle enhancement as a source of social stability, implying a sort of social contract between the country and its citizens. Safe new roads, malls and cable TV play an important role, Kang said.

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