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An international survey has found that Chinese companies are less trusted than companies headquartered in other nations, a major hurdle for the growing number of Chinese enterprises looking to "go global".
Of those polled in developed countries, only 19 percent regarded companies headquartered in China as "trustworthy", according to a survey by Edelman, a leading public relations firm.
This was in stark contrast to perceptions of companies from Germany, Sweden and Canada, which more than 70 percent found trustworthy. Chinese companies also fared worse than those headquartered in Brazil and India.
However, the survey found that in other emerging markets 58 percent of respondents trusted China's businesses and in China 79 percent.
"It showed that there is a big gap between how the world perceives us and how we perceive ourselves," said Kevin Wang, Edelman China co-president.
David Brain, Edelman Asia-Pacific president and CEO, said the low trust can be attributed to less familiarity, insufficient communication and less established brands.
"Not many Chinese companies have gone abroad in a big way. Not many Chinese companies and governments have made efforts to communicate about China's businesses and brands," Brain said.
"Part of the problem is quality and innovation. China in this respect is going up: You are going from imitation to innovation. But communication has to be part of that," he added.
And the low trust toward Chinese companies has significant implications.
"It means it's harder for Chinese companies to do deals. The deals cost more and they find it more difficult to find local partners," Brain said.
But according to Brain, it will only take a few recognized brands to change people's perceptions. A few brands such as Hyundai, Samsung, LG and Kia improved the perception of South Korean brands.
In Singapore, he said, one brand, Singapore Airlines, single-handedly lifted the nation's trustworthiness.
"For me, China has two candidates with the potential to play that role: Haier and Lenovo. I think they have a national duty to over-communicate and overachieve for the rest of China," said Brain.
The survey, based on more than 31,000 online respondents across 26 markets, also found a company's engagement and integrity are important to its success.
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