China has gone from a place shut off from the world to a manufacturing center, to a place that Western companies coveted for its huge consumer base. Then, China developed its own companies that were outside the state-owned system. These companies succeeded within China, and now, contrary to the predictions of many, are succeeding and becoming known globally. Additionally, Chinese business interests are acquiring foreign companies, taking on global assets.
Chinese Brands Known Globally
Aside from the companies that have been discussed in detail, such as Alibaba, WeChat, and others, here are some examples of local Chinese brands, largely unknown outside of the country 10 years ago, that are now players on the global stage.
The company is currently the largest PC manufacturer in the world, the biggest seller of smartphones in China, and a globally known brand since 2005. Once a small company known for its cheap ThinkPad computers, it has acquired and merged with other technology companies and is now a conglomerate with headquarters in both Beijing and North Carolina, United States. Lenovo started to become an international brand name when it acquired IBM’s PC division in 2005. Its acquisitions include Motorola Mobility, as well as Brazilian and German tech companies. Most of these acquisitions were made to help the company gain access to international markets.
A multinational telecommunications company with its headquarters in Shenzhen, China, Huawei is the largest telecommunications manufacturer in the world. The company is a global leader in 5G technology. It designs its own chips, supplies equipment for and builds telecommunications infrastructure globally. This includes cloud services, Internet service equipment, as well as traditional phone technology. Most of the world’s largest providers—including Vodafone, British Telecom, T-Mobile, Bell Canda, and Portugal Telecom—have worked with Huawei at some point. The company also has a successful smartphone division that plans to launch one of the world’s first 5G handsets while it has announced plans to launch a blockchain-enabled phone.
Haier is a multinational consumer electronics and appliance company headquartered in Quingdao, Shandong Province. The company was a pioneer in the country’s globalization drive and was one of the first Chinese companies to successfully expand into international markets. It has been the largest home appliance company in the world for eight years in a row, with 12 percent of market share in 2017. The brand is also known for developing business strategies that differ from those of other large corporations and is constantly updating their approaches. Haier recently bought General Electric Appliances and is focusing on its e-commerce presence and Internet-related products.
Hisense is similar to Haier, in that it is also a large, Qingdao-based electronics manufacturer. It is a state-owned company that has some publicly traded subsidiaries. The brand might be lesser known in terms of its major product lines because they sell their products under a variety of brand names that they have acquired through brand licensing deals, company acquisitions, and partnerships. Hisense has acquired product lines and selling rights to products from Toshiba, Sharp, Hitachi, NEC, Qualcomm, and Sanyo. The brand is better known for their smartphones, smart TVs, as well as its high-profile sports-related promotional activities such as the naming rights to the Hisense Arena in Melbourne, its partnership with FIFA, and its sponsorship of the 2016 Euro football championships.
The company became known as a mobile phone manufacturer and was a key player in the Chinese market as smartphones were becoming more popular. Xiaomi is the fifth best-selling smartphone manufacturer in China, right behind Apple. It is the second largest in India and ranks in the top 10 worldwide. Although the company suffered some setbacks in recent years, it has staged a comeback and is now a globally known brand in the smartphone sector.
Anker is a Changsha-based Chinese company founded in 2011. They have offices in Shenzhen and Seattle. They are one of the world’s most popular brands for portable power banks. Anker was one of the first brands to master this product category by selling on Amazon. It still channels its sales and delivery operations there to serve their Western customers. Within China, the company sells on Tmall and JD.com. Their products regularly feature in top 10 lists of the best rechargers. The company is now branching out into new product areas such as portable projectors and equipment for smart homes.
DJI stands for DaJiang Innovation. The company was founded in 2006 by Frank Wang, a student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which offered him a grant to study and develop drone technology. Headquartered in Shenzhen, the company is renowned for its unmanned flying machines that are optimized for filming and photo purposes. The company has won a technology Emmy, and they enjoy a 66 percent share of the North American market for drones in the 1,000 to 2,000 U.S. dollars price range and a 68 percent share in the 2,000–4,000 U.S. dollars range.
Founded in 2013, OnePlus is the youngest company on this list. One of its founders is the former vice president of Oppo, a big smartphone brand in China. Oppo is the primary and only institutional investor of OnePlus. Its first phone was called One Plus One, which is abbreviated as OPO. The brand made its mark by selling initially only through pre-sale and only on the Internet. This led to the development of a growing number of dedicated followers. Its smartphones were flagship quality, but at a much lower price. The company still operates this way, with the exception of invitations and pre-sales. Its smartphones have evolved and are among the most advanced phones in the market.
Global Brands Now Owned by Chinese Companies
The brands listed here were founded and came to prominence in Western markets. They are strongly connected with certain countries, nationalities, philosophies, and lifestyles. It might come as a surprise to some readers that they are now owned by Chinese companies.
• IBM: Owned by Lenovo
• Motorola: Owned by Lenovo
• General Electric Appliances: Owned by Haier
• Volvo Cars: Owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group
• Club Med: Majority owned by Fosun International Ltd.
• London Black Cabs: Owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group
• Pizza Express: Owned by Chinese Private Equity firm Hony Capital
• Harvey Nichols: Owned by Dickson Concepts
• Inter Milan: Owned by Suning Holdings Group
• AC Milan: Majority owned by Chinese Company Rossoneri Sport Investment Co.
• Aston Villa: Majority owned by Chinese company Recon Sports Ltd.
• The Ironman Triathlon: Organizer Triathlon Corporation is owned by Wanda Group
• Grindr: Owned by game developer Beijing Kunlun Tech
• The Wardorf Astoria: Owned by Anbang Insurance Group
• 500 px: Popular photo site similar to Flickr, now owned by Visual China Group
• AMC Theaters: Owned by Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group. This acquisition made Wanda Group the owner of the largest theater chain in the world