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Unocal bid tests US' China ties
(Los Angeles Times)
Updated: 2005-07-12 06:44

The controversy over a Chinese oil firm's bid for Unocal Corp. has obscured another key development: American companies are accelerating efforts to buy or invest in Chinese businesses. But those American firms now fear a backlash amid heightened U.S.-China trade tensions.

U.S. corporations are plowing billions of dollars into shares or outright control of Chinese companies in industries as varied as beer, banking and biotech.

The surge reflects Beijing's easing of restrictions on foreign ownership, as well as American executives' conviction that they simply must be in China's booming market.

"For us, it's not just a place to manufacture. It's turned into a substantial market," said Christopher Adams, Eastman Kodak Co.'s chief China representative in Beijing. Kodak has invested well more than $1 billion in China, and its 9,000 stores dot the nation, already Kodak's No. 1 market for roll film.

Last year Anheuser-Busch Cos. paid $720 million to take over Harbin Brewery, which dominates China's beer-guzzling northeast region. Amazon.com Inc. spent $75 million for Joyo.com, China's largest online seller of books, DVDs and CDs. And private equity firm Carlyle Group agreed to put up $400 million for a 25% stake in China Pacific Life Insurance Co.
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