For centuries, individual Chinese have sought their fortunes abroad, creating Chinatowns around their restaurants and shops. Now, Chinese firms are going global, pushed by a government embracing capitalism, pulled by untapped markets and armed with bundles of money from a thriving economy back home.
Auto plants are popping up in Latin America. A sprawling commodity bazaar promises a provincial Swedish city new life. A car parts distributor is snapping up ailing companies in the U.S. Rust Belt, a TV factory hums in South Africa and a high-tech firm is landing contracts to revamp the Persian Gulf’s telecommunication networks.
Just as the earlier arrival of Japanese companies changed U.S. manufacturing, over time Chinese companies could affect how their Western rivals approach innovation, competition and business itself.