But the range of investment opportunities is narrow. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges have officially categorized only 13 listed companies as providing "Internet and related services." And only 108 on the two markets combined are called "software and information technology" companies.
Indeed, government restrictions prevent retail investors from directly buying stakes in the Internet companies that matter most in China. Thus, a mainland investor who uses Baidu every day cannot directly trade the search engine's stock.
Retailer investors seeking overseas-listed shares are legally required to buy through special funds under the government-supervised Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (QDII) program, which started in 2006.
As of February, the government's State Administration of Foreign Exchange said, the 119 domestic funds allowed under the QDII scheme had received Beijing's permission to invest more than $86 billion in overseas equities markets. Most of these funds are run by state-owned banks and securities firms.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.