Ties That Bind: The Benefits of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment

HONG KONG , June 13, 2012 — In 2010, China's newfound status as the world's second largest economy according to The Economist made headlines. Now, just two years later, it is poised to become the world’s largest economy. Asia Society Hong Kong Center's lunchtime panel "An American Open Door? Reversing the Trend" focused on the impact of Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States. Panelists Bill Taylor, president of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), George Landegger, chairman of Parsons and Whittemore and Linda Yang, senior partner at Yingke law firm, discussed the significance of China's rapid economic growth and the ways in which it will contribute to the development of a mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries.

Landegger believes that conflict can be averted if the potential for mutual understanding and ties through investment is realized. He emphasized the meritocratic nature of business in America and the importance of cultivating a long-term relationship between the two nations based on trust, citing George Santayana's maxim to the effect that "those who do not study the lessons of history are doomed to re-live them."

Taylor discussed the collective challenge facing all businesses — the process of globalization. He focused on the importance of openness and honesty in partnerships, stating that although cultural differences exist between countries, their underlying core values are the same.

During the discussion, Yang addressed the complexity of trust issues between countries, wondering about the ways in which Chinese companies can prepare themselves before entering into business in America. Taylor replied that the best way is to gather information on all fronts — economic, social and cultural — in order to inhabit and understand a point of view very different from one's own.

A business partnership requires more than facts and figures; the strengthening of economic ties between the U.S. and China will bring with them a greater ability to acknowledge, and adapt to, cultural differences.

Reported by Jean Tang