The politics of China’s “Going Out” strategy: overseas expansion of central state-owned enterprises



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The growing global presence of China’s state-owned enterprise (SOEs) has captured much of the world’s attention. Continuous waves of SOEs’ overseas ventures, a result of government-led transnationalization officially dubbed the “Going Out” strategy, have generated great uneasiness in international relations. This dissertation, The Politics of China’s “Going Out” Strategy: Overseas Expansion of Central State-owned Enterprises, seeks to answer the following question: how the Chinese central state and central SOEs interact with one another as the “Going Out” strategy has evolved. This dissertation finds that the transnationalization of SOEs is by no means a coherent policy but rather is fraught with power struggle, with various bureaucratic agencies setting different goals for SOEs on the one hand and with SOEs managers defending corporate interests without incurring political setbacks on the other. The state’s advocacy of the overseas expansion of SOEs was aimed at achieving national economic and security goals, but SOEs, with their expanded autonomy gained from the new state-market relationship, have been able to ignore state directives that were detrimental to firms’ financial performance. This dissertation also finds that negotiation and bargaining between China’s fragmented bureaucracy and SOE managers over the terms of firms’ “going out” grow more intense as corporate autonomy become increasingly institutionalized with the progress of reform. Over time, SOEs’ overseas expansion reflected more the firms’ corporate strategy than the state’s policy objectives.