China’s Outbound Investment: The US Experience

Mark Feldman
JEL codes: 

U.S. policy expressly welcomes Chinese investment, and since 2000 Chinese companies have invested nearly $50 billion in the United States. Notwithstanding those facts, the U.S. regulatory environment for Chinese investment – at least with respect to the national security reviews of certain proposed transactions – has been criticized as politicized and protectionist.

This article analyzes the experience of Chinese investors in the United States, particularly with respect to national security reviews led by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). This article addresses a small, but significant, group of controversial U.S. transactions involving Chinese acquirers, including CNOOC, Tangshan, Northwest, Huawei, and Ralls, which have had a damaging impact on Chinese perceptions of the U.S. investment environment. At the same time, this article considers the “clear but silent majority” of Chinese investments in the United States that go forward routinely and without controversy.

To help preserve – or, some would maintain, restore – the U.S. reputation for providing an open investment environment that is free from political or protectionist influence, this article recommends that the United States aim to ensure that the “clear but silent majority” of U.S. investments by Chinese acquirers receive the public attention they deserve. The need for some $8 trillion in investment over the next 15 years to modernize U.S. infrastructure should provide many opportunities for the U.S. Government to further demonstrate that Chinese investment is indeed welcome in the United States.