Why Chinese FDI in Myanmar

For decades, Western companies have been going abroad to expand their operation, but the emergence of Chinese foreign direct investment is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

The world witnessed the emerging economic power of both public and private Chinese companies. For many reasons including the need to adjust to rising costs, expand scale of operation, gain entrance to overseas market and secure natural resources, more Chinese companies than ever are venturing outside of their borders.

My research interest is formed as I noticed how Chinese manufacturing sectors are moving to foreign countries such as Myanmar, Bangladesh and Vietnam. After visiting Myanmar a few times, I had the opportunity to tour a Chinese-invested garment-manufacturing factory, and it was immensely interesting to me how the Chinese managers supervised and communicated with the Burmese workers.

It is possibly assumed by many especially the Western world that Chinese and Burmese culture, being both ‘Eastern’ and ‘collectivist’ cultures, share many similarities. But is it really the case? A series of uprisings and strikes in Chinese-owned factories in Yangon (the capital of Myanmar) seem to indicate there is more to this.

There are bound to be various issues of cultural differences and conflicts, and conflict-resolution may not always be achieved satisfactorily to restore trust in mutual relationships and expectations. There is a lot more to be discovered.

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