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Last updated on January 16th, 2023 at 07:50 pm

Numerous Chinese startups are swimming against the current by looking for ways to enter the American market as well as other international markets. U.S.-China relations deteriorate, and decoupling trends intensify.

Many are influenced by China’s slowing economy, stricter regulatory environment, and uncertainty surrounding the “zero-COVID” policy, which recently sparked one of the country’s biggest nationwide demonstrations in decades. 

Others are motivated by the enormous global success of organizations like Shein and TikTok’s owner ByteDance Ltd.

However, they are relocating their headquarters outside of China or establishing a separate entity in nations like the city-island state of Singapore in order to avoid the kind of backlash that short-video app TikTok in particular has faced as it expands. 

Some companies are also changing their names and taking out references to their Chinese roots. Others are making different products for the Chinese market and the rest of the world to show how they manage their data or products.

In twenty-four interviews, founders, executives, and investors talked about how China-based businesses can keep getting access to markets and resources. 

in the two largest economies in the world while attempting to avoid the type of attention that comes with being referred to as a Chinese company.

Almost 40 of Chris Pereira’s clients are taking steps to reduce the geopolitical risks connected to their connections to China.

According to Chris Pereira, CEO of the North American Ecosystem Institute, a consulting firm that aids Chinese businesses in expanding abroad

He counsels clients to place more emphasis on their products than their origin. 

Some are creating subsidiaries in the U.S., Canada, and Singapore with different names or management teams from their parent companies to avoid unwanted scrutiny, he said.

Private education was subject to a crackdown in China last year, and English-language learning platform China Online Education Group COE decreased by 3.75%..

Red Down Pointing Triangle split off its domestic business, moved to overseas markets, and changed its name to Talk Online Education Group to become a global company.

The company also moved its headquarters to Singapore so that it could grow around the world. It still has a research and development center in Beijing, though.

In the midst of its restructuring, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission flagged the New York Stock Exchange-listed company as potentially subject to delisting. 

In order to allay the worries and because all of 51Talk’s revenues come from outside of China, the company changed its auditor from PricewaterhouseCoopers China to Marcum Asia CPAs LLP, a U.S.-based firm.

The company claims that by taking these steps, it has reduced its geopolitical risks and is also expanding quickly. 

Before things got really bad between China and the West, entrepreneurs who were born in China and went to school in the West tried to use their bilingual skills and cross-border networks to build businesses that could compete globally. 

Despite the fact that geopolitics has created new challenges, their goals, according to investors and founders, remain the same.

Many have looked to ByteDance and Shein for inspiration when developing their globalization strategies. 

The businesses have shown that combining the capital, talent, markets, and supply chains of the United States and China can lead to success. 

Also, they have pointed out the kinds of backlash from customers and the government that businesspeople say should be avoided at all costs.

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TikTok:

As TikTok’s popularity has grown and it has become the most popular website in the world by 2021, U.S. government officials have raised concerns about its ties to China. They worry that user data could end up in the hands of Chinese authorities. 

After an argument with China over the border, India banned the app because they were worried about data privacy and national security.

In a blog post from July, TikTok said that the company had taken steps to limit employee access to user data from the United States and to cross-border data transfers, including those to China.

Shein, a company that exports goods from China, is facing more and more opposition because of its effects on the environment, possible links to forced labor in Xinjiang, and dozens of lawsuits for copying fashion designs. 

A Shein spokesman said that the company has a policy of “zero tolerance” for forced labor and has worked with reputable groups to do regular, covert audits of its supply chain. 

To date, these audits have not turned up any instances of forced labor.

Since then, both businesses have taken actions to distance themselves from their Chinese roots. 

On its blog, TikTok says that its CEO and COO are based outside of China, as are its data centers. This means that they are not subject to Chinese law. 

According to corporate records, Shein changed its parent company from a Hong Kong-registered company to Roadget Business Pte. Ltd.

Shein did not respond to requests for comment regarding the modification.

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Red Date & BSN:

Red Date Technology’s founder and CEO, Yifan He, kept his engineering team in Beijing while moving the company’s headquarters to Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China with its own financial and judicial systems.

The business is the primary developer of the Blockchain-based Service Network, or BSN, a global decentralized cloud service that enables businesses and governments to create distributed-ledger applications. 

For both the Chinese and international markets, it creates two distinct versions.

Some people in Washington thought that BSN could set a global standard for blockchain infrastructure, which would be in line with the goals of the Chinese Communist Party. This was based on the service’s rapid growth in China, where it was created by Red Date, several state-run businesses, and a branch of Beijing’s planning agency.

Mr. He set up a non-profit in Singapore at the end of last year to make the Chinese and global versions of BSN even more different. 

The latter will be run by the votes of all the multinational corporations that are members of the organization. 

Red Date also made the code for the service available for public inspection.

Mr. He claimed that Westerners “simply don’t trust Chinese companies.” 

It takes us twice or three times as long to persuade them that we are acting honestly and that we are not working as a Chinese government stooge.

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Pinduoduo:

In September, Chinese company Pinduoduo Inc. (PDD, 0.56% increase) entered the American market with the launch of its international e-commerce site, Temu. 

It has incredibly low prices and buys a lot of its goods from China, just like Shein.

The website initially omitted any mention of its connections to Pinduoduo. 

The website now says that it is connected to Pinduoduo, was started in Boston, and does business in the United States through an organization based in Delaware. 

Outside of the United States, a Singapore-based company works with its clients. Requests for comment from Pinduoduo went unanswered. 

One of Tony Wu’s portfolio companies also changed its name from Chinese to Japanese, according to Tony Wu, a partner at Northern Light Venture Capital, a cross-border venture capital firm that invests in early-stage tech startups. 

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Fiture:

Not all businesses have avoided their Chinese roots. 

A smart-fitness startup from Shanghai called Fiture introduced its first item for the American market in April. 

It was an AI-powered workout mirror that consumer technology reviewers compared to a comparable product from Lululemon Inc. 

The company hasn’t run into any geopolitical obstacles, according to its executives, who also claim that their cross-border team and operations helped them create a product that can be sold worldwide.