China is Now a Key Area in the Global Strategies of Multinational Companies
Once upon a time, multinational companies were very sober-minded about investing in China. Of the large German and Japanese companies, originally only Volkswagen and the Sanyo invested in Shanghai, Changchun and Shenzhen on a significant scale. When recalling the days of studying China's investment climate in 1981, Dr. Karl Harn, a magnate in the German auto industry, said, "For most multinational companies at that time, China was still a mysterious, shy girl".
But today, changes have taken places. Multinational companies are begining to accelerate their investment in China on a large scale, and have integrated with China's economic and social activities in every sector.
According to statistic, 400 out of the "FORTUNE 500" have made a direct investment in over 2000 projects in China. In Pudong, Shanghai alone, the total value of 181 projects invested by 98 companies has reached U.S.$ 8 billion.
In recent years, the "FORTUNE 500" 500 target at China, apart from the impetus of the international situation, China' own potential is also a strong temptation.
As for the remarkable achievements of China's economy, chairman and CEO of the Boeing Company, can't help showing his admiration. "China's GDP growth rate in the past twenty-three years is 2.5 times more than in North America and Europe. If the leading increase rate keeps going, China will undoubtedly grow into a strong economic power in the next fifty years. Multinational companies must attach sufficient importance to the promising purchasing power on the Chinese market".
After a study of China's current situation, Mr. Li Wen, president of the Warner Group, firmly believes that taking a comprehensive survey of the great changes in China in the past twenty years and the development trend of the world economy, two positive facts can be ensured. One is that China's economy has a bright future and the growth potential is huge, the other is that powerful multinational companies are seeking regions with a stable economic growth rate to gain new development opportunities. Connecting the two facts, China in the reform and opening is just such an ideal cooperate partner. In fact, China has already become one of the focuses for the multinationals in all business lines in rearranging their international economic setup in the 21st century.
Based on this thinking, many large multinational enterprises have moved their head offices to China, such as the ABB Group of Switzerland, the Robert Bosch Gmbh Co. from Germany and two famous companies from America and France.
Talking of the relocation of the ABB Group, vice president, Mr. Chen Daping said, "in order to reside in China, learn of the policies at an early date and improve our development strategy, we moved here." Maybe this is just the reason why multinational companies are fighting to relocate their head offices in China. The abundant harvest received by the early arrivals further encourages the investment by multinational companies. According to a survey, the sales volume of German Henkel Group in 1998 reached RMB 2 billion, and that of Boeing obtained a surprising RMB 19 billion. Motorola, Sony, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola and Ericsson also achieved considerable profits.
A survey by the Boston Company not long ago indicates that 90% of companies in Europe, the U.S. and Japan have set a "China first" strategy. Their race to invest and relocate of their head offices in China clearly tells us: multinational companies have focused their key strategies on China, a stable and developing China can not be separated from the world, and the world can not be independent of China, which is creating external business opportunities.
Multinational Companies Accelerating the Sales Strategy Rearrangement
There is a new trend in the investment by multinational enterprises: to shift their businesses and technical transformation to establishing production bases, the core strategy is first to occupy the huge Chinese market.
Reviewing the short-term investment history: in 1992, most multinational companies merely set up representative offices in China and mainly engaged in trade.
But since 1995, they have shifted to establishing production bases, especially the share holding companies (such companies are the highest form of foreign investment, besides investment and reinvestment, their responsible also includes product agency, the training of personnel, providing information and supplying funds). Such multinationals include Omron, Hitachi, Panasonic, Sanyo, Fujitong, Toshiba, Isuzu of Japan, Siemens, Bayer, Henkel of Germany, General Electric, IBM, Motorola, and Dell Computer of America.
In recent years, multinational companies have accelerated their large investment in China. McDonald's alone has built 52 factories in China. ABB Group established 20 joint ventures. Volkswagen AG set up four large joint ventures and one solely-invested enterprise with a total investment of U.S.$ 2 billion. In addition, Boeing has three large joint ventures, and the key components of 3100 Boeing planes now flying worldwide were made in China. Moreover, with the relocation fever, multinational companies are intensifying their localization strategy of the "root in China".
According to employment records, foreign-funded enterprises favor local professionals. The director of human resources for Microsoft (China) Co., Ltd. says, over 500 their employees are Chinese, and most of them are masters and doctors. To our surprise, more and more senior posts are being taken by Chinese. In the ABB (China) Group, of 5000 employees, nearly ten general managers are Chinese, while foreign senior officials are very few.
In order to ensure that their products keep up with the changing market, multinational companies lay special emphasis on the localization of R & D and the expansion towards the intellectual service field. Some powerful companies have increased their R & D investment and established research institutes in China. A "China fever" has been started by foreign IT magnates.
At the end of last year, Microsoft invested U.S.$ 80 million in a China Research Institute specializing in essential research. It also declared recently that U.S.$ 50 million investment will be made in the Microsoft Asian Technology Center in Shanghai, the highest level research institute of Microsoft in China.
Siemens intensifies the localization of key technology. After a century of introducing track communication technology into China, vice president Mr. Burt said, "a century's experience persuaded us that a key factor securing the successful operation is the localization of key components.
In November 1999, Motorola (China) Electric Co., Ltd. built the "Motorola China Research Institute" in Beijing. It now has altogether eighteen R & D centers in China (including Hong Kong), 650 research personnel with a investment of RMB 1.3 billion, covering advanced semiconductor materials, micro-controller, CDMA, Will system, and chips for mobiles and software. By the year 2001, there will be 25 research centers and 1000 research personnel with a total investment of RMB 1.8 billion.
Northern Telecom International Ltd., IBM, Intel, Du Pont Holding Co., Ltd., P & G, Ericsson, Nokia, Panasonic and Mitsubishi have all established research centers, technological development centers and laboratories in China. AT &T even plans to open the first "Bell Lab". A French company will build "technological zones" in Beijing and Shanghai, including a chip factory and four application labs.
Thanks to the acceleration of component localization brought about by the establishment of R & D institutes by multinational companies, costs are reduced and the competitiveness is increased.