San Francisco Chronicle, Chinese investment in U.S. plunges, with big implications for California

San Francisco Chronicle, Chinese investment in U.S. plunges, with big implications for California

By David R. Baker, April 9, 2018

As the threat looms of a trade war between Washington and Beijing, a new report finds that Chinese investment in the United States plunged by more than a third last year, a result of policy changes in both capitals.

That downward trend, if it continues, could have big implications for California.

No other state has received as much investment from Chinese companies, which since 2000 have sunk an estimated $21 billion into opening Silicon Valley technology labs, buying or funding local companies, and financing real estate development.

Chinese investment in U.S. companies and properties soared in the past decade, from less than $1 billion per year before 2008 to $46 billion in 2016. But according to the new report from the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the Rhodium Group, investment tumbled to $29 billion in 2017.

And that number was propped up by deals announced in 2016 but completed last year. Remove those, and the value of new Chinese investments in 2017 dropped 90 percent, according to the report — and fewer new deals were announced in 2017 than in 2016.

The trend means that American companies may not be able to attract as much investment as they otherwise could, potentially limiting their growth.

The authors lay the blame squarely on decisions made by government officials in both countries — not market changes.

In China, government authorities sought to rein in “irrational” international investments by companies overextending themselves and posing a risk to the country’s financial system.

Meanwhile, in Washington, proposed deals came under much more aggressive scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews foreign purchases of U.S. companies for potential threats to national security.

Starting under President Barack Obama and accelerating under President Trump, some federal officials have charged that the Chinese government has encouraged Chinese companies to buy or invest in American businesses as a way to obtain trade secrets and dominate key industries, particularly in technology. According to the report, an “unprecedented” number of Chinese-American deals were delayed or blocked by CFIUS in 2017.

As a result, some in Washington will likely welcome the drop in Chinese investment, said Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. He does not share their view.

“There are folks in the security community who think it’s a wonderful thing,” Orlins said. “There are folks in China who believe the state should interfere in investments, and they think it’s a wonderful thing. I think the majority of the American people and the majority of the Chinese people would say it’s not a good thing.”

Both governments are now threatening punitive tariffs on each other’s goods, from dishwashers to soybeans. And yet the world’s two largest economies remain tightly linked.

A companion report also issued by Orlins’ committee and the Rhodium Group shows that Chinese investment in American companies has spread across the country. Companies with at least 50 percent Chinese ownership now employ about 139,600 people in full-time positions across the United States, with the number growing by 7,400 employees last year.

California has been the biggest recipient, followed by New York and Massachusetts. The Golden State has an estimated 530 Chinese-owned businesses, with 16,000 jobs, compared with roughly 200 businesses in New York employing 6,440 people.

Within California, most of the money has flowed to the Bay Area and the Los Angeles region. Chinese businesses such as Internet search giant Baidu and telecom equipment-maker Huawei have opened labs in Silicon Valley to tap the region’s engineering talent. Chinese investors have also bought some firms outright, such as digital imaging company OmniVision, and purchased minority stakes in others, such as social networking business Snap.

Not all of the investments have panned out. As the report notes, LeEco — once described as the Netflix of China — had to sell its U.S. headquarters in Santa Clara last year, as the company scaled back after years of rapid international expansion.

The Bay Area has also actively courted Chinese investment. San Francisco has a public-private partnership organization, ChinaSF, that tries to facilitate Chinese investments in the city and the region, while also helping Bay Area companies expand to China.

“Other cities have come to us and said, ‘Hey, what’s your secret sauce?’” said Darlene Chiu Bryant, the group’s executive director. She is not particularly worried about last year’s drop in investment, saying, “It’s a time when the market levels off a bit, so I’m not surprised.”

Chinese investment in the Bay Area’s tech industry troubles critics who see in it a danger to America’s economic future. It is, they say, another way to gain access to intellectual property that China can use to seize the lead in such fields as renewable energy and electric or autonomous cars — property that the U.S. government has at times accused China of stealing outright.

“China has engaged in a wide-ranging, well-funded effort to direct and support the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets to obtain cutting-edge technology, in service of China’s industrial policy,” read a report issued in March by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, arguing for tougher trade policies toward the country.

“China’s acts, policies, and practices are unreasonable because they are directed and supported by the government, and unfairly target critical U.S. technology with the goal of achieving dominance in strategic sectors,” the report read.

Bryant considers that fear overblown.

“At the end of the day, every tech company I know of wants to become a global company,” she said. “This is a global economy. Your technology is going to leave this country one way or another, it’s just a question of whether you’re going to be part of that transfer.”

ChinaSF's 10th Anniversary

ChinaSF's 10th Anniversary

On March 8th, 2018, ChinaSF celebrated our 10th anniversary at our annual fundraiser. ChinaSF was formed in 2008 as the China desk for Mayor Gavin Newsom to focus on recruiting and serving inbound companies and investment from China to increase job opportunities in San Francisco. Today, ChinaSF has recruited and assisted more than 96 companies, provided counsel to more than 1,000 companies, created more than 788 jobs, and brought in more than $5.1 billion in foreign direct investment to San Francisco.

This year’s event was held at the Cosmo Labs offices. Cosmo Labs is a Hong Kong based company that designs and develops prototypes into market-ready ideas for top consumer brands. Cosmo Labs was founded by Europeans who specialize in industrial design and advanced manufacturing for tech hardware and high end consumer brands. They design and develop things such as Apple accessories as well as designer items for brands such as Michael Kors and Saint Laurent. With manufacturing facilities in China and a design center in Hong Kong, the founders decided to establish an industrial design center in San Francisco to facilitate its clients and be closer to R&D centers in the region.

In addition to Cosmo Labs, our 10th anniversary would not have been a success without our other event sponsors: ChinaLive, Decathlon, Crystal Jade, Mandarin Leader, Maxville Winery, and Forma.

The event began with an opening address from our Executive Director, Darlene Chiu Bryant, in which she thanked everyone for their support over the years and highlighted some of ChinaSF’s major accomplishments in the last decade. Following this address, a memorial video was played to honor the late Mayor Ed Lee. Mayor Lee, the biggest advocate for ChinaSF. Under his leadership and advocacy, we were able to establish a third China office in Shenzhen, establish five friendship cities in China, help cities such as Qingdao and Guangzhou open office in San Francisco, as well as launch two initiatives: ChinaSF builds, focused on real estate, and ChinaSF Sandbox, for tech companies.

After the memorial, Todd Rufo, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development gave his welcoming remarks and congratulations to ChinaSF on their 10 year anniversary. California State Assemblymen Phil Ting and David Chiu gave their congratulations and presented a Resolution from the State Assembly to ChinaSF. San Francisco City Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu gave her remarks, congratulations, and certificate of honor to ChinaSF as well.

The Commercial Consul of China, Mr. Yihang Yang, was also in attendance to congratulate ChinaSF on their accomplishments as well as to commend their continuing work for economic cooperation between San Francisco and China. The Consul-General from Singapore, Mr. Darryl Lau, was also present to celebrate the occasion. Mr. Hans Galland, Senior Vice President of Pacific Eagle, gave his own remarks for the occasion in addition to providing a teaser for the next stage of development for ChinaSF and the international programs. Last but not least, the venue host’s CFO, Richard Genrault commended ChinaSF on their work over the last decade.

The evening’s festivities concluded with a live auction and cocktail social.



For more photos from our event, please visit the following websites:



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ChinaSF Hosts Annual Fundraiser

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On February 23, ChinaSF celebrated its 8th annual fundraiser alongside the grand opening of Chinatown’s newest culinary destination, China Live. ChinaSF celebrated its success as an economic initiative of San Francisco’s OEWD. With the support of ChinaSF’s network and the opportunity to sample the best Chinese Cuisine has to offer, ChinaSF celebrated with over 800 attendees and fundraised $24,609.09.

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China Live is a 30,000 square foot development that will house three distinctly different restaurant concepts, bar and a retail section, creating more than 90 jobs to date.

Sunman Energy Company Launch

On May 17, ChinaSF helped Suman Energy host a reception to talk about this new company and its new products. Dr. Shi, the company’s founder and also founder of the company Suntech, shared his passion for solar energy and introduced his new products like the light weight, flexible, thin solar panels which he hopes to bring to our global economy to compete with Tesla.

BIO International Convention: The Global Event for Biotechnology


From June 20 – June 22, BIO hosted its 24th annual BIO International Convention in San Diego with more than 6,000 attendees from 65+ countries.

Helen Li represented ChinaSF and collaborated with SFCED to promote San Francisco and its growing biotech hub and opportunities. ChinaSF hosted a successful booth with SFCED, resulting in meeting over 30 Chinese delegates. Through interacting at this event, ChinaSF is in the process of signing a MOU with China’s Chamber of International Commerce. Additionally, Shanghai Bio also expressed its interest in San Francisco Bay Area and collaborating with ChinaSF to set up a San Francisco office.

Life Sciences Gateway Panel Event


On June 23, ChinaSF hosted our Life Sciences Gateway biotechnology panel event at QB3 in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. Through the attendance of leaders at QB3, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Deloitte, Theranova, and Natosha Safo from OEWD, attendees were able to discuss the opportunities in both San Francisco and its growing biotech industry.

Representing the new biotech industry in China, 10 Chinese delegates were brought to ChinaSF’s Life Sciences Gateway after attending the BIO International Convention. In successfully educating and collaborating with China’s Chamber of International Commerce, not only did ChinaSF provide the resources and opportunities our biotech hub offers but we also enabled China’s Chamber of International Commerce to establish its biotech footprint in San Francisco.

Select USA 2017

As the highest-profile event dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment in the US, Select USA held its 4th Investment Summit this June in Washington, DC. This year, Select USA had a record attendance of more than 2,800 participants from over 60 international markets and 51 U.S. states and territories. In particular, over 200 Chinese investors were brought by the US Trade Office to enable greater Chinese attendance at this large event.

ChinaSF was honored to be the only sponsor from California to join Greater Washington China Investment Center's dinner cruise welcoming the Chinese delegation to Select USA 2017.

ChinaSF’s executive director, Darlene Chiu Bryant represented ChinaSF at its 3rd attendance at Select USA and hosted a successful booth, resulting in gaining 72+ contacts at this event.


On October 5th-6th, ChinaSF supported InvestSF program in Singapore. Darlene Chiu Bryant represented ChinaSF to speak at the program about business environment in San Francisco. She also shared the insights and discussed with other speakers at the panels about challenges, as well as the opportunities and practical implications involved in entering the US market.

2017 ChinaSF Builds Roadshow


ChinaSF organized the inaugural ChinaSF Builds Roadshow from October 8th to 13th. As the second educational real estate roadshow, ChinaSF brought 25 real estate professionals, including developers, investment experts, lawyers, SF City Government representatives, and executives, from the Bay Area to Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.


With over 160 attendees at our event, ChinaSF was able to successfully host and connect the Chinese community with opportunities and information on the procedures necessary to establish business in San Francisco. Due to the success of ChinaSF’s 2016 Builds Roadshow, ChinaSF is hosting its second roadshow in October 2017.

Lingang Strategic Cooperation Signing Ceremony


On October 9th, a signing ceremony between ChinaSF and Shanghai Lingang Group was held at Caohejing Renaissance Hotel in Shanghai. Under the witness of San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, director of Office of Economic and Workforce Department Todd Rufo, director of Planning Department John Rahaim and director of Office of Resilience Capital Planning Brian Strong, Darlene Chiu Bryant signed a partnership agreement with Shanghai Lingang Innovation Center. Both parties expressed full confidence in the in-depth cooperation and the integration of innovative resources in Shanghai and San Francisco.

Canton Tower Science & Technology Conference


The launch ceremony of 2017 Canton Tower Science & Technology Conference was held in Guangzhou on October 12, 2017. 100 influential speakers delivered impressive speeches. More than 9,000 audience members from home and abroad came to the site, while 7,100,000 people viewed this remarkable event online.


ChinaSF was honored to be the only one overseas supporting organization.  Todd Rufo represented San Francisco and Helen Li represented ChinaSF at the conference to promote the city. In the evening, Guangzhou Science Technology and Innovation Commission and San Francisco office of Economic and Workforce Development held a signing ceremony to memorize future cooperation in information technology, innovation and entrepreneurship and exchange visits between two cities.

Maotai New Product Launch


On October 13th and 14th, ChinaSF and a delegation led by San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee paid a visit to Maotai and took part in the launch ceremony for Kweichow Moutai Day commemorative liquor, a specialty product designed exclusively for the American market. During the visit, Darlene Chiu Bryant represented the San Francisco city government and signed a memorandum of understanding on friendly cooperation with Kweichow Moutai Co., Ltd.  According to the agreement, the two parties plan to cooperate strategically and extensively and, as part of the cooperation, Moutai will build an office in San Francisco, where a formal celebration honoring Kweichow Moutai Day will be held annually.

China Smart City Forum & Expo


China Smart City Forum & Expo 2017 is held in China Hi-Tech Fair 2017 at Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center, with focuses on leading innovation-driven development, promoting intelligent manufacturing, boosting the transformation of applications in new technology for traditional industries, strengthening the development and application of mobile internet technology. ChinaSF was the only overseas supporting organization. Helen Li represented ChinaSF to speak at Innovative Applications of Smart City session and promote San Francisco.

San Francisco Business Time, How ChinaSF brings businesses to the Bay Area from China

San Francisco Business Times, How ChinaSF brings businesses to the Bay Area from China

By: Shane Downing, March 15, 2018

In 2005, Darlene Chiu Bryant joined then Mayor Gavin Newsom on his first trip to China. 

“We got back, and he said he was going to set aside $2.1 million to setup ChinaSF,” remembered Bryant, Newsom’s former chief deputy communications director. “I said ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’” 

But Newsom kept his word and launched ChinaSF in 2008, and in 2012, Bryant took over as executive director.  

ChinaSF is a nonprofit organization that works in partnership with the San Francisco Center for Economic Development, also a nonprofit, to promote economic growth in both San Francisco and China. ChinaSF works to recruit Chinese companies to San Francisco while simultaneously supporting San Francisco-based companies looking to expand into Chinese markets. 

Since its inception, ChinaSF has helped 96 Chinese companies — such as restaurant Crystal Jade, smart-helmet manufacturer LIVALL and biotech company Vcanbio — start or expand offices mostly in San Francisco. In doing so, it has created 788 jobs and generated more than $5.1 billion of economic impact in the Bay Area.

 In 2017, ChinaSF recruited 14 companies to the Bay Area and is working to land three more Chinese businesses in San Francisco in the next few weeks. 

For companies looking to go global, San Francisco isn’t a difficult destination to sell: The city has more than 75 consulates, trade commissions and investment organizations. Doing business in San Francisco, though, requires knowledge and skills that overseas companies may not have. 

That’s where ChinaSF comes in. By linking incoming Chinese companies to the most relevant San Francisco-based service providers — such as attorneys, accountants, real estate brokerages, PR firms and city agencies — at no cost, it makes the transition to the Bay Area easier.  

“These companies need an objective partner to be their first point of contact when coming into San Francisco,” said Todd Rufo, the director of the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “We want to be that trusted partner. We want to help these companies rapidly localize.”

ChinaSF connects with prospective businesses via networking events.Between its offices in San Francisco, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, the organization hosted or co-hosted about 60 such events in 2017. That blend of word-of-mouth referrals and face-to-face events resulted in 404 new business leads.

ChinaSF’s team of Chinese-Americans who speak fluent English, Mandarin and Cantonese is a big asset for prospective Chinese companies looking to expand here.

“Chinese companies feel a lot more comfortable when they know they’re talking to someone who represents the government and speaks their language,” Bryant said. “It especially gives them more comfort knowing that they’re talking to an American who knows what business is like in San Francisco.”

The majority of Chinese businesses that ChinaSF works with are real estate companies, followed by tech, finance and biotech. Bryant said it can take anywhere from six months to a couple of years for these companies to launch in the city.

Bloomberg, Local U.S. Officials Woo Chinese Investment Despite Trump Threat

Bloomberg, Local U.S. Officials Woo Chinese Investment Despite Trump Threat

By: Yueqi Yang, March 27, 2018

With the Trump administration acting to squeeze China on trade, U.S. governors and mayors are delivering a different message to Chinese businesses looking to invest: Bring it on.

Making trips to China and setting up liaison offices in the country, officials aim to position their states, cities and towns as desirable destinations for Chinese companies looking to invest and operate overseas.

"We are not shy about talking about our relationship with China," said Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, in a March 16 phone interview. Since Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, took office in 2015, "we decided to really target China and try to bring more investments from China," Preston said.

The outreach continues as President Donald Trump imposed sweeping trade tariffs last Thursday against China, saying as he signed the order, "This is the first of many." He also directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to propose new investment restrictions on Chinese companies. In the past year, multiple acquisitions of American companies by Chinese buyers have been either blocked or abandoned following opposition from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. on national security grounds.

When the federal government is taking a "massive step backwards" in free trade, "cities and mayors have an important role to play in keeping America open to business and attracting investments that inject dollars and energy and jobs," said Christopher Cabaldon, mayor of West Sacramento, California.

Several people interviewed for this article spoke before the tariff details were announced. Cabaldon’s office said his remarks still stand.

"Smart governors are taking their economic future into their own hands," said Nancy McLernon, president of the Organization for International Investment, a lobbying group for foreign companies operating in the U.S. They "are out there reassuring companies that are already invested in their states, and their open investment policy statements are very impactful," she said.

$2 Billion

Shandong Ruyi, a Chinese apparel producer, announced in 2017 that it would open a factory in Forrest City, Arkansas, and create as many as 800 jobs, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. As incentives, the state will provide tax benefits and cash rebates.

In the past three years, according to the commission, Arkansas went from having no investments from China to securing more than $2 billion through commitments from Chinese firms in textile, paper and heavy equipment sectors.

JobsOhio, a non-profit authorized by Ohio’s government to represent the state, sends staff to China several times a year.

"We view it as very important," said Kristi Tanner, senior managing director of JobsOhio, in a March 18 phone interview during a business trip in Fuzhou, China. She said that in meetings with companies and provincial leaders, she used Fuyao Glass, a Chinese automotive glassmaker whose factory in Moraine, Ohio, employs about 2,000 workers, as a case study for other Chinese companies.

Self-Driving Technology

Tanner said Ohio wants to capitalize on Chinese investments in the automotive sector, particularly in self-driving technology. She added that China’s interest in the U.S. resembles that of Japanese automakers’ American expansions in the 1980s. "We see a similar path with China," she said.

Other states and cities have similar delegations. San Francisco is expanding its quasi-government agency, ChinaSF, which has three branches in China and provides Chinese companies with access to the city government.

Preston, the Arkansas development executive, said Trump has come up in conversations with potential Chinese investors, "But we are really trying to focus on state-to-state, governor-to-governor relationships. Those relationships have been strong and have been good."

"Certainly the rhetoric is going to be a risk, but we’ve also done our best to mitigate that," he added.

Only about 6 percent of Chinese investments in the U.S. from 2000 to 2017 are so-called greenfield projects, in which a Chinese company sets up a local operation from scratch; the rest of the deals are mergers and acquisitions, according to Rhodium Group, a research consultancy in New York.

Investments Drop

And Chinese investments in the U.S. dropped by 35 percent in 2017 to $29 billion of consummated deals from a record-high number in 2016, Rhodium Group said. Much of the decline was due to China’s capital control rules, but also growing regulatory hurdles in the U.S., mostly scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., Rhodium said.

ChinaSF has facilitated transactions that came under Cfius review. The city is a popular destination for Chinese investors in the biotech, real estate and fintech industries.

China has responded to Trump’s tariff announcement by threatening to impose tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports -- including agricultural, steel and aluminum products. Beijing’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, said his nation did not want a trade war, but all options were on the table.

"They will always find a way to get things done. Already, China is starting to be more sector-specific in their investments," Darlene Chiu Bryant, executive director of ChinaSF, said Monday. "China has been exporting to the USA for more than 200 years, and trying to turn back the clock with tariffs alone is not going to help the country; it will ultimately hurt the consumer."

ChinaSF invites you to join...

ChinaSF invites you to join...


How Applied Artificial Intelligence is changing… SOCIETY | ENTERPRISE | PEOPLE
Where: San Francisco, Bespoke Events Space
● When: April 12, 2018
● Tickets:
● Webiste:
● Event size: 1 day event | over 800 attendees

Discover the latest innovation and the positive impact of Artificial Intelligence technologies.
The Applied AI Conference is a must-attend event for people who are working, researching, building, and investing in Applied Artificial Intelligence technologies and products.
The event is focused on practical application and current commercialization of AI technologies across industries such as Transportation & Logistics , Internet of Things (IoT), Future of Work (FoW), Financial Technologies (FinTech), CyberSecurity , and Healthcare Technologies (HealthTech).

The 2018 conference agenda will provide insights into the present and future impact of AI on your organization, as well as in your daily life. The conference will also feature concrete ways, tools, and methods to prepare, organize, and tap AI’s transformative power.

Join the conversation online #AAI18

Speakers lineup:

New speakers will be announced every week.

More information about last year's conference:

Attendees from last year:

Videos from last year:

OTSAW Digital releases O-R3, the autonomous security robot

ActiV Technology, powered by OTSAW Digital, has successfully released its brand new O-R3 outdoor security robot, just in time for the CES Asia 2017 event. This robot combines modern 3D technology, machine learning algorithms, and GPS features to precisely navigate its surroundings. Armed with not only facial recognition technology but also a drone for areas of rough terrain, ActiV Technology hopes to replace security personnel with this security robot. 

Based in Singapore, ActiV Technology first came to Silicon Valley in 2015 with ChinaSF's assistance. ActiV Technology's aim is to become a leader in innovative technology, by providing high quality and reliable services and products.

More information about the O-R3 security robot can be found here: .


ChinaSF Hosts Annual Fundraiser

ChinaSF Hosts Annual Fundraiser

 To view more images, please visit   here

To view more images, please visit here

ChinaSF was thrilled its 8th annual event was celebrated alongside the grand opening of Chinatown's newest culinary destination, China Live, on Thursday, February 23rd.  Envisioned and carefully curated by restaurateur George Chen and Cindy Wong-Chen, China Live is a 30,000 square foot development that houses a Chinese-Market restaurant, an all-day Oolong cafe, three distinctly different restaurant concepts, a retail section and flower mart.  The upper floors of China Live include George Chen’s Eight Tables - an elegant restaurant offering a seasonal eight course tasting menu, a craft cocktail bar overlooking Broadway Street, and the Gold Mountain Lounge - a private dining/lounge space.  


More than 800 people attended the event, which included a traditional opening ceremony with firecrackers and Chinese lion dancers, followed by a program emceed by our executive director Darlene Chiu Bryant, with remarks from Founder and Proprietor of China Live George Chen, Chris Wight of Cypress Properties, California State Senator Scott Wiener, California State Assemblymen Phil Ting and David Chiu, as well as San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

The opening of China Live has already made a tangible economic contribution to San Francisco.  So far, China Live has created 100 jobs from its construction project as well as 90 additional jobs with the opening of the first floor.  China Live has projected to hire approximately 100 more people to staff its upper floors.  

             Their doors open to the public on March 1st, for more information about China Live visit


Thank You To Our Event Photographer Frank Jang!