On April 8, a signing ceremony in Athens witnessed China’s COSCO Shipping Corp buying a 67 percent stake in operating Greece’s Piraeus Port. Not a few days ago, Midea Group, a Chinese home appliance maker, bought an 80.1 percent stake in Toshiba’s home appliance business.
The recent signings are just two of Chinese enterprises’ outgoing trend. Since China carried out the “Go Global” strategy in 2001, enterprises have been exploring the global market.
In the “Go Global” era 1.0 more than 10 years ago, when many Chinese enterprises started setting up overseas sales networks, most of them simply engaged in low-end international trade.
It was followed by the “Go Global” era 2.0, when many State-owned enterprises reached out to the overseas market, mainly aimed at properties such as oil and natural gases and overseas infrastructure projects.
Private enterprises’ rise turned out to be the highlight of “Go Global” era 3.0, as they directly invested in foreign markets, set up factories overseas, employed local labor, and acquired foreign companies and infrastructure. Over this period, China’s manufacturing bases gradually moved outside domestic markets and “Made in China” was gradually received by overseas markets.
With examples of Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM and Geely’s purchase of Volvo, Chinese private enterprises triumphed in many industries.
Now, with “Go Global” era 4.0 coming, private enterprises become the main driving forces, with investment diversity and upgrade of their position within global value chains.
According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, Chinese non-financial investment in 2015 amounted to $118.02 billion, a growth of 14.7 percent year-on-year, and continuing growth in outbound investments over the past 13 years.
Data from Dealogic, an international financial data supplier, shows that China saw a historical record high $92.2 billion in outbound acquisitions in the first quarter of 2016. In addition, China is number one in global cross-border mergers and acquisitions as it enjoys a 30 percent market share.
Along with market shares, Chinese enterprises’ global steps in the 4.0 era show more features considering their diversified investments, higher end within global value chains, transformation from mere “Made in China” to “Made for China”, and growing into world-class innovators.
With its economy entering the state of New Normal, China is witnessing two dramatic changes: from a capital importing country to a capital exporting country; from “world factory” to “world market.”
More Chinese enterprises set out to acquire overseas companies to cater to the rise in the domestic service industry, middle class, and internet-connected consumption.
“Go Global ” era 4.0 of Chinese enterprises echoes China’s undergoing economic transformation and is a proactive part of China’s new opening-up strategy.