Young writers call upon real experiences for novels depicting Chinese companies’ overseas expansion
Business Odyssey
Published: Nov 03, 2022 09:24 PM
Cover of Odyssey of an Overseas Business Photo: Courtesy of Da Ni

Cover of Odyssey of an Overseas Business Photo: Courtesy of Da Ni

Overcoming stereotypes about Chinese products, adapting to totally different cultures, resisting unreasonable punishment and working hard on international projects, more Chinese writers are focusing on the stories of Chinese companies' businesses overseas, creating diverse works of fiction based on real experiences.

Former businessman Da Ni, who worked on expanding overseas business in 30 countries for the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, has joined this group of writers recording the stories of Chinese companies during today's age of rapid development. 

His book series Haiwai Zhengcheng (lit: Odyssey of an Overseas Business) has been seen as a portrayal of the rise of Chinese enterprises in overseas markets by reviewers and has been rated 8.5/10 on media review platform Douban thanks to his own experiences and his ideas about the field.

"I want more young people to see there are lots of opportunities today and encourage them to keep striving on the road to achieve growth and value in life, instead of just lying flat and complaining," Da Ni told the Global Times.

China's outbound direct investment flows reached $153.71 billion in 2020, ranking first in the world and accounting for 20.2 percent of global share. At the end of 2020, China's OFDI stock was distributed in 189 countries and regions around the world, according to data published by the Ministry of Commerce. 

These achievements have inspired more writers to take this as a starting point to establish a new genre focusing on Chinese enterprises' competing overseas.

Learning from experiences

Da Ni has already published three books in the series, which records the different stages of development of Chinese enterprises through the personal experiences of the main character Jacob.

The book series follows the evolution of global networks from 2G to 4G. Taking place in dozens of countries, the story is a highly condensed version of a company president's efforts to expand overseas and the ups and downs he experiences over a period of 10 years.

The main character is based not only on the author's own experiences but also other pioneers working overseas that he had known during his career in business.

Da Ni said his favorite part of the fictional story is how the plot has expanded to include Latin American countries.

Jacob is sent to take charge of several projects in Latin America, a region with which he is very unfamiliar. He first wins the hearts of his foreign subordinates with his communication skills and then finds a new business opportunity while investigating rural areas in Central American counties.

To take advantage of this opportunity, Jacob and his team tried their best to win over a transnational operator, one of the most important core customers, and finally succeeded.

He said that he used more than 100 pages to describe the intricate process of lobbying and striving for the teleservice project. 

"My favorite sentence in the book says that there are two kinds of people in the world: ones relying on hope and others who become the hope that other people can rely on."

His stories and tight plotting have captured the attention of many readers, who said that they felt their blood burning with passion while reading the book and were inspired to strive together with the main characters to create a commercial empire from scratch.

The intriguing fictional book series is different from traditional business dramas as the structure not only shows the internal workings of a huge business company, but also contains a large variety of characters and professional information while showing a company's overseas development. 

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

First-hand accounts

During the eight years he spent working on expanding Huawei's international business, Da Ni was in charge of 2G, 3G and 4G telecom network marketing in more than 30 countries all around the world, achieving sales breakthroughs after "starting from scratch" in many of them.

He told the Global Times that according to his experiences, there are multiple factors involved in the success of Chinese enterprises' expanding overseas, but they mainly boil down to two aspects. 

The first is learning how to handle relations between the frontlines and the head office so that those who really understand the situation can make decisions. The second is having enough strategic patience to maintain stability in a company so that salespeople have ample time to promote their products and make plans in line with local conditions.

There are also other books about the theme of Chinese companies striving overseas in other sectors, such as On the Road. The book depicts the real life of overseas construction workers and the process of Chinese construction companies going global and taking an active part in overseas construction.

The author interviewed dozens of frontline workers in the infrastructure industry while writing the book to get first-hand accounts.

Another work, Great Power & Heavy Industry, about construction companies heading overseas has also gained a lot of loyal readers throughout the country.