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Go Global. But Not Without Political Clout

Lobbyists [1] (or “public affairs” / “government communications”) consultants have long been a feature on the business map in China, and it seems that globalizing Chinese businesses have taken note. Caijing magazine reports that an increasing number of Chinese companies are hiring lobbyists when they go global [2]. Examples include:

It is not surprising that Chinese companies are making these moves. They are seeking global market access, are learning “on the job”, and need to compete with locals, the local way – much as foreign companies have had to do in China.

The challenges they face are very real, and political opposition to CNOOC’s bid for Unocal’s, and Lenovo’s contested contract to supply computers to US government offices are just two examples. In the CNOOC case, Caijing reports that the company:

Another problem was that CNOOC did not lay the groundwork, and build support, before making the bid. Instead they simply reacted to – but could not contain – the outcry. Don’t expect the same mistake to be made again:

Making products cheaply in China is no longer enough to succeed and, in today’s politically-charged environment [3], market access cannot always be bought on economic arguments. If Chinese companies want to “go global”, they will find that value-added services, such as lobbying and PR, are among the few sectors where competitive advantage can still be found overseas.

China Lobby Curries Favor With U.S. Government [4]