When Wu Cunsong and Chen Binghui founded their artificial intelligence startup two years ago in Hangzhou, China, they quickly ran into obstacles, including dearth of venture capital.

This March, they did what scores of other Chinese AI firms have done and moved their company, Tabcut, 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) southwest to Singapore.

The business-friendly country offers Wu and Chen better access to global investors and customers at a time when elevated geopolitical tensions keep many U.S. and international firms away from China.