Today on The Negotiation, Rebecca Fannin discusses the globalization of leading Chinese tech companies such as Pinduoduo, TikTok, Xiomi, and DJI. She has gained a deep understanding of the rapidly-evolving business landscape in the country, having interviewed the likes of Jack Ma, Robin Li, and many others back when their now-globally recognized brands were still in their startup days. Out of these interviews and personal experiences working in the country, Rebecca published her first book in 2007, Silicon Dragon, and has since published two more books: Startup Asia (2011) and Tech Titans of China (2019).
The China tech scene has been on the rise for the past decade. However, challenges still exist (and are actually increasing in number) for foreign companies looking to enter China and vice versa.
As the first foreign correspondent to interview Jack Ma, Rebecca was witness to the eCommerce tycoon’s early days as an entrepreneur. She remembers him as being charismatic, honest, and open. She notes that he did not seem to have any handlers around him listening to their conversation—although the situation is quite the opposite today.
With Jack Ma’s departure as Chairman of Alibaba and his replacement by Daniel Zhang, Rebecca believes that the company will only continue to innovate and thrive with the new leadership. For example, 11.11, or Singles’ Day, was Daniel’s highly successful brainchild.
With regards to the US and China’s respective strengths over each other, Rebecca brings up Kai-Fu Lee’s assertion that both countries are on the same level with regards to the development of artificial intelligence; however, China is implementing these technologies faster than the US is. At the same time, the US has the R&D lead on AI. China is also implementing 5G and all-things mobile (particularly when it comes to payments such as Alipay and WeChat Pay) at breakneck speed.
When a foreign brand decides to enter China, it’s important to put the right managers in place and not giving autonomy to the local staff when it comes to decision-making. This is mainly for purposes of communication speed, considering that the Chinese economy is moving incredibly fast. Waiting a week or two—or even overnight—for a decision may cost the brand any edge they have.
“The challenges in China are more pronounced than in other markets,” says Rebecca. Think carefully on whether entering China, out of every other country, is really the best next step for your company.
What is The Negotiation?
Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.
The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.