China is regarded as the world’s leading practitioner of state capitalism in which important capitalist enterprises have a close relationship with the state. One prominent feature of China’s state capitalism is the fundamental role of about 100 large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) controlled by organs of the central government in critical industries such as oil, telecom, and transportation. These SOEs are often dubbed “China’s national champions.” They are not only important players in China’s domestic economy but also major contributors to China’s fast growing global investment. Their global expansion however often encounters political and regulatory challenges abroad, partly because their corporate governance practices are opaque and often deviant from international standards. Prevailing theories suggest that political and regulatory pressure arising from institutional distance between China and host countries (particularly advanced economies such as the United States) may act as an effective force to push for SOE governance change. Empirical findings in this Article however indicate that the development of global equity connections that potentially expose SOEs to foreign institutional pressure seems virtually irrelevant to the reform patterns of these most important non-financial SOEs in China. The absence of correlation may be related to investment structure and geography, investment motives, and importantly, China’s domestic political institutions. This Article offers insights into the perennial scholarly debate about the future of national corporate governance systems in the era of globalization and also provides practical recommendations for Chinese and international policymakers
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