TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (4): 443-451.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002965

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Characteristics of China’s OFDI and Related Economic Geography Research Themes: Based on an Analysis of Chinese Investment in the World and ASEAN Countries

ZHANG Hong’ou,HUANG Gengzhi,WU Kangmin,YE Yuyao,WANG Yang   

  1. (Guangzhou Institute of Geography//Guangdong Open Laboratory of Geospatial Information Technology and Application,Guangzhou 510070,China)
  • Online:2017-07-05 Published:2017-07-05

Abstract: China has entered a new stage of economic globalization characterized by “going global”. This means that an increasing number of Chinese firms have extended their investment to foreign countries and that as a result China’s outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) exceeded its inward FDI for the first time in 2014. However, China’s OFDI received little attention in domestic economic geography, leaving some important questions under-researched. This paper firstly analyzes the characteristics of China’s OFDI at the global and regional (the ASEAN region) scales. Five characteristics are found: 1) China has seen a rapid growth of OFDI and entered an accelerated development stage; 2) the distribution of China’s OFDI is geographically uneven, concentrating in Asia at the regional scale and in the USA and Singapore at the international scale; 3) China’s OFDI is mainly from her eastern coastal regions, which is associated with the uneven development in eastern, middle and western parts of China; 3) state-owned enterprises are the primary investors of China’s OFDI, but the investment from private enterprises have increased significantly; and 5) China’s OFDI mainly concentrates on service industries, but the investment in manufacturing sectors has continued to increase. Secondly, this paper discusses four research themes of China’s OFDI from the geographical perspective that focuses on the issues of spatial differences, place and local embeddedness. These themes include: 1) the impact of the institutional distance between home and host countries on the local decision of China’s OFDI; 2) the process of local embeddedness of Chinese firms abroad into host countries, or in other words, the way the Chinese firms adapt to the institutional difference between home and host countries; 3) the location decision difference between state-owned and private enterprises and between the firms with different investment motivations; and 4) the reasons for spatial distribution of China’s OFDI source in different provinces and its potential impacts on the regional development of China. In a word, it is suggested that the research of China’s OFDI from an economic geography perspective should pay attention to the geographical differences between the investment destinations and the investment sources, and the formation mechanism of those differences.

Key words: outward foreign direct investment, location choice, economic geography, institutional distance, local embeddedness, China, ASEAN