In this article, we expand upon the springboard perspective of emerging markets in the service sector. We investigate the phenomenon of service firm internationalization in China and the distinct differences between service and manufacturing firms during international expansion. Using dynamic analysis of historical data for 363 service firms and 569 manufacturing firms from 2001 to 2007, we find that the internationalization of service firms in China is different from that of manufacturing firms in terms of resource requirement and experience exploitation. The internationalization of service firms relies more on international experience than corporate resources. Furthermore, we also identify the structural differences between hard and soft service industries. In China, identifiable intangible assets are found to be more important for the international expansion of hard service firms than they are for soft service firms. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.