If you think Chinese companies do business in China and that's about it, you're sorely mistaken. China's tech leaders - Alibaba, Xiaomi, Baidu and others - are now massive tech giants, on par with American peers Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. This size means they're no longer content to just operate in China. They're coming to America and Europe.
Chinese cloud computing company Aliyun, a division of ecommerce giant Alibaba, announced on Monday that it has signed up a slew of big international partners to sell its services globally.
The seven companies announced include Intel, data center specialists Equinix, and French webhosting company Linkbynet. While Intel may be the only name familiar to most Americans it represents a strong endorsement of Aliyun's vision and size.
"We are expecting more partners to join, which also covers Europe," said an Aliyun spokeswoman.
To compete outside of China, Aliyun needs to have datacenters close to customers and consumers, meaning in places like the United States. Rather than build its own data centers, Aliyun's strategy is to work with local providers.
Once it establishes those relationships it then plans to sell its services to Chinese companies seeking to expand abroad, then focus on selling to foreign companies, according to Aliyun's chief architect Derek Wang.
This strategy mirrors that used by its parent company, Alibaba, which is slowly moving into the U.S. market by building research offices and hosting some of its content in the United States so it can be accessed more rapidly by U.S. shoppers.
With 1.4 million direct and indirect customers, Aliyun has plenty of customers which it can sell to rather than aggressively courting U.S. businesses - for the moment, at least.
The announcement by Aliyun reflects Alibaba's plans to go global, which it named as its number one priority for 2015.
Ethan Sicheng Yu, an Aliyun vice president, said that “the new Aliyun program is designed to bring our customers the best cloud computing solutions by partnering with some of the most respected technology brands in the world. We will continue to bring more partners online to grow our cloud computing ecosystem.”
But don't let the timid looking baby steps fool you. Alibaba, and other big Chinese tech giants, are coming to America. Over the next five years companies like Amazon, Google, Ebay and Apple will all see significant competition from the once unknown brands.