Korean companies have made a significant contribution to the rapid growth of China’s economy since the implementation of reform and the Open Door Policy. With the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations in the 1990s, a large number of Korean firms in the fields of textiles, apparels, shoes, wigs, accessories and electronics made inroads into China; and since the 2000s, many companies in the heavy and chemical industry such as carmakers and machinery producers have set up factories in China one after another. Their moves were strategic: to take full advantage of China’s foreign investment attraction policy on one hand; and on the other hand, to tap into China’s massive market and plentiful resources as part of active business expansion efforts. And one of the bases for making such strategic
decisions was the cheap and abundant labor force made available by the population of 1.3 billion people. In almost all major industries including electronics and apparels, Korean firms in China are usually involved in the so-called “triangular trade,” where Korea exports parts and components to China for processing and assembly into final products,
which are then exported to countries around the world including the United States and Europe.