Updated at 1 p.m.
WASHINGTON • In October 2014, executives from the Chinese technology company Lenovo celebrated their acquisition of Motorola by eating a deep-dish pizza in Chicago. The very same month, a little-known Chinese insurance company announced its intention to purchase the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.
These acquisitions involve just a fraction of the capital that is now flowing into the U.S. from China. According to a new report by Rhodium Group, an advisory firm, and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, a nonprofit, Chinese companies spent nearly $46 billion on acquisitions in the U.S. between 2000 and 2014, with most of that activity happening in the last five years.
Between the 1980s and 2000s, the U.S. pumped a huge amount of foreign direct investment into China, but that investment moved largely in one direction. It wasn't until recent years that China began returning the favor, as its economy became more developed and its companies began going abroad in search of new products, markets and talented employees.
Where has Chinese investment gone in the U.S.? For the first time ever, the report tracks Chinese commercial investment in the U.S. at the Congressional district level. Investment between 2000 and 2014 varies a lot by location, likely due to the variety of local investment targets and the district's success at recruiting Chinese investors.
Top five districts, according the report, are the 4th Congressional District of North Carolina (Raleigh-Durham, $3.4 billion), the 7th Congressional District of Illinois (Chicago, $3.2 billion), the 12th Congressional District of New York (New York City, $2.3 billion), the 4th Congressional District of Virginia (eastern Virginia, $2 billion), and 7th Congressional District of Texas (Houston, $1.8 billion).
Missouri received more than $860 million of Chinese investment from 2000 to 2014. Much of that investment is concentrated in the 5th and 6th Congressional districts because of Smithfield Foods, a Chinese-owned pork processor.
Chinese-affiliated companies, the report finds, now directly employ more than 80,000 Americans, including nearly 4,000 in Missouri. That's up from fewer than 15,000 five years ago.
The report estimates that the U.S. could receive up to $200 billion of Chinese investment by 2020, with the number of Americans employed by Chinese affiliates to rise to between 200,000 and 400,000 people.
The Washington Post contributed to this report. The Rhodium study is available at http://rhg.com/reports/new-neighbors