This study addresses the power relationship between TNCs and their partners in the host region, a question that critically affects regional development in this globalizing world. Site interviews suggest Shanghai’s special standing in China, providing it with stronger power in bargaining with TNCs than any other region in the country. Shanghai has thus gained tremendous benefits in technology transfer and managerial skill improvement. Company studies further reveal that the bargaining relationship between TNCs and local companies differs according to many factors. The level of ownership is determined by competition between both sides in terms of capital strength, technology level and marketing capability. The level of localization is affected by the previous status of the local partner, the size and development of the domestic market and the capability of the local manager. The change of one region’s bargaining power is also related to the power of other (potential) competition regions. The degree of regional economic imbalance between regions within a country tends to be enlarging in the process of global‐local interaction mediated by TNCs.