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Venturing across Borders: Investment Strategies of Singapore-Chinese Entrepreneurs in Mainland China

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This article analyzes the business strategies of Singapore-Chinese companies that have been venturing into China since the 1980s. Based on a number of case studies, the investment practices of Singaporean Chinese companies are investigated in terms of cultural, economic and political triggers. The question raised is whether increased investments by Singapore-Chinese private and public companies in China have been due to shared cultural values, to capitalist profit seeking, or to the fact that governments have framed policies to support such investments. The paper argues in favour of a combination of the three perspectives. It is, first and foremost, for cheap labour and untapped markets that Singapore-Chinese entrepreneurs invest in China. However, sentimental or moral reasons may encourage Singaporean Chinese entrepreneurs to strengthen ties with their "hometown" in China and other ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs in the world through economic investments. At the political level, the Singaporean government provides incentives and facilities for domestic companies to venture across borders, and acts as the main investor in transborder joint ventures, and sponsor for trade missions to China. Finally, from the mainland Chinese perspective, Singaporean Chinese are interesting business partners not for their "Chinese" identity but for their "transnational" competencies, that is, their mediating role between Western and Chinese business strategies.


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