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137 Although China’s economic growth has been making headlines for more than two decades, most of corporate China’s ventures into the international market have occurred discretely below the radar. This certainly was not the case with China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) bid for Unocal in June 2005, which ignited a Congressional furor and raised the specter of the “China threat.” China had seemingly transformed itself overnight from simply a magnet for foreign direct investment to an economic juggernaut . The reality, of course, is much more complex. Though Congressional opposition and the prospect of a prolonged approval process ultimately doomed CNOOC’s bid for Unocal, other Chinese firms are encountering more fundamental hurdles in their attempts to internationalize their businesses, from overcoming inexperience and littleknown brands to plugging gaps in managerial expertise. At the same time, we know that Chinese policy encourages strategic investments overseas and that China has piled up an enormous reserve of foreign exchange that is fueling the purchase of considerable foreign assets. This issue of the NBR Analysis examines the political and economic forces that both “push” and “pull” Chinese firms to expand into international markets. WTO accession strengthened the level of competition and brought a host of new pressures to bear on China’s domestic market. Firms now struggle with difficult choices regarding how to internationalize while maintaining a competitive edge in more demanding environments . The research developed in this essay provides a new baseline for understanding the reasons, goals, and methods of Chinese firms in their evolution from domestic to global players. Professor Friedrich Wu brings extraordinary experience from the public and private sectors and academe, serving most recently as Director of Economics in Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. Prior to entering government service, he was Vice President for Economic Research at the Singapore-based DBS Bank. Dr. Wu was a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies after earning a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, and is currently engaged in university teaching and research. Richard J. Ellings President The National Bureau of Asian Research Foreword ...


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