My comments were featured in an Special Report published by Xin Hua New Agency entitled “China Inc.” According to Li Guoxue, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China is redefining its position in the global economy, edging up in the value chain from being the factory of the world.
For example: WeChat, a messaging app for smartphones made by Tencent in China, is the 10th most popular social media in terms of monthly active users — just behind Twitter, according to GlobalWebIndex.
Available in 18 languages, the app has been a strong rival of WhatsApp and Line in Southeast Asia, India, Italy and Latin America. It achieved a record 379 percent growth of international users, topping social network growth between the second and fourth quarters in 2013, said GlobalWebIndex
Anthony Alvarez, a director at Pucho Web Solutions, said it is good that Chinese Internet companies are profitable.
Hopefully they will increase research and development budgets to enable future growth, he added.
Experts have cautioned that a brand is not built in a day. Chinese companies, despite their hunger for foreign markets and lavish purchases overseas, have to be innovative in marketing, product development and operations to gain advantage over established brands in the West. “The competition is tough,” said Alvarez.
Another example is Huawei, a Shenzhen-based technology company, is poised to build a global brand based on value and quality. It has a 70,000-strong global R&D team and ranks among the top five companies for numbers of patents.
In mid-2013, it unveiled what it said the world’s thinnest smartphone, hoping to take on high-end rivals like Apple and Samsung in the global market.
“Our theme for this product is elegance with an edge,” Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business group, said in London at the launch of the super-slim, 6.18mm-thick handset.
The company, operating in 140 countries and regions with two thirds of its sales outside China, is the world’s second largest provider of carrier network infrastructure after Sweden’s Ericsson. But even Yu acknowledged: “We need time to build our brand and win the trust of consumers.”
Other Chinese companies making bold moves in the West. Lenovo, a Beijing-based tech giant, took over Motorola’s handset unit in January, nearly a decade after buying IBM’s ThinkPad business. The acquisition is expected to allow the world’s largest PC vendor to become the world’s No. 3 smartphone maker.
In another example of China’s global business ambition, Shuanghui International, China’s giant meat producer, merged with the biggest name in the U.S. pork industry, Smithfield Foods, last year, completing the most valuable Chinese corporate purchase ever in the United States.