TikTok, Shein and Other Companies Distance Themselves From China

But a wave of tougher restrictions in the United States on doing business with China appears to be having an effect, too.

Research by Altana, a supply chain technology company, shows that since 2016, new regulations, customs enforcement actions and trade policies that hurt Chinese exports to the United States were followed by “adaptive behavior,” like setting up new subsidiaries outside China, said Evan Smith, the company’s chief executive.

For Chinese companies, going global is not a new phenomenon. The Chinese government initiated a “go out” policy at the turn of the century to encourage state-owned enterprises to invest abroad to gain overseas markets, natural resources and technology.

Private companies like the electronics firm Lenovo, the appliance maker Haier and the e-commerce giant Alibaba soon followed, seeking investment targets and new customers.

As tensions between the United States and China have risen in recent years, investment flows between the countries have slowed. U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods put in place by President Donald J. Trump and maintained by President Biden encouraged companies to move manufacturing from China to countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Mexico. The pandemic, which halted factories in China and raised costs for moving goods across the ocean, accelerated the trend.

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