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Surging Chinese investment brings more jobs to local Americans

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-18 13:24

NEW YORK - For Rachel McGaw, an office manager who lives in a US rust-belt town of Illinois, working for a Chinese company is more rewarding than a US one.

"I enjoy working here. I like my salary, I like my hours. I feel more valued because the company takes me and my feeling and my family into consideration," said the employee at Wanxiang New Energy, the solar division of Wanxiang America Corporation.

More investment more jobs 

McGaw is just one of thousands of local workers employed at Wanxiang who would otherwise be jobless.

The corporation entered the US market in 1994, the year General Motors went to China to start their operations in China.

It now has 28-plus plants, runs in more than 20 sates in the United States, and employs more than 18,000 people. Only about 10 employees are dispatched from China, and the rest are all local.

Over the years, Wanxiang has acquired many firms on the brink of bankruptcy, Ni Pin, president of Wanxiang America, said, "we saved a lot of jobs."

While China and job losses are discussed as one and the same by certain parties on Capitol Hill, the reality could not be more different. Chinese companies are opening new plants and hiring people in America - a scenario largely absent from the rhetoric of some US politicians.

Chinese companies now employ more than 140,000 Americans, according to the latest report released by the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR) and Rhodium Group.

Already on a steep growth trajectory for the past five years, Chinese investment in the United States jumped to $46 billion last year, a 200-percent increase from the previous record of $15 billion set in 2015, the newly updated report on China's US investments showed.

In addition, the report named "New Neighbors 2017" showed that by the end of 2016, 425 out of 435 Congressional Districts hosted Chinese-owned companies.

In 2016, Chinese investors further expanded and deepened their footprint in the United Sates, according to a separate report released on Wednesday by NCUSCR and Rhodium Group.

US coastal states, such as New York and California were still the major beneficiaries of Chinese investment, while South and Midwest states also received significant Chinese investment last year.

In New York, the Alexander Hamilton Bridge that crosses the Harlem river has gone through a major widening and rehabilitating project done by China Construction America. The 550-foot-long steel arch main bridge now carries 10 lanes of traffic instead of eight, with its support piers and foundations reinforced and new drainage installed.

The Chinese construction company started its business in the United States in 2000 with only 12 employees and less than $10 million of annual revenue.

In 2016, it employed around 2,000 workers, 98 percent of whom are Americans. Its revenue jumped to $2 billion.

In Moraine, Ohio, more than 2,000 people are working at a nearly 470,000-square-meter glass fabrication factory housed in General Motors' former assembly plant.

The plant used to employ thousands of people making SUVs and trucks, but was closed in 2008 as a financial crisis wiped out jobs across the industry.

Fuyao is one of the world's largest auto glass makers and has a 22-percent market share in the United States. Its investment in Moraine is the largest Chinese investment in Ohio history and the eighth-largest direct foreign investment in the United States over the last decade.

As it expands its market in the country, it will create more manufacturing jobs. And these jobs are certainly needed in the Midwest.  

Rebirth of community

Stephen A. Orlins, president of the National Committee on US - China Relations, was quite emotional when recalling the factory's grand opening.

He said it signaled the rebirth of a community and at the moment he knew he had glimpsed "the promised land of a constructive US -China relations."

Chinese companies in the United States are bridging bilateral economic ties and cultural exchanges in their own ways.

In addition to creating job opportunities for local Americans, Wanxiang also makes sure that every penny the company makes in the United Sates will be invested into local community.

"In our company there are four stakeholders, shareholder, employee, customer and local community," said Ni.

He said Wanxiang has always embraced globalization and that the company has contributed immensely to prosperity of local communities.

Drawing on Wanxiang's experience, Ni said globalization brings more opportunities for growth and development in local communities, rather than damaging local economy as some have feared.

Fuyao, on the other hand, pair Chinese employees with American employees for them to learn languages and exchange ideas and techniques. The company also invited American employees to visit its plants in China.

"Bilateral investment is a cultural as well as economic bridge between countries because it makes commerce a platform for the exchange of ideas," said Orlins on Wednesday at an event for the release of the report named "Two-Way Street: 2017 Update US - China direct Investment Trends."

"What used to be a one-way street - with money flowing predominantly from the United States to China - is now a two-way highway with tens of billions of dollars in annual FDI flowing in each direction," said the report.

According to the report, the cumulative value of US FDI transactions in China reached over $240 billion by the end of 2016, while the cumulative Chinese FDI in the US totaled $110 billion in the same period.

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