Global Chinatown goes local

The rise of a Global Chinatown, one of the institute’s Top10 trends for 2014, is accelerating and it is coming to a ballpark, residential community, manufacturing plant, shopping center, entertainment complex, resort or technology company near you.

The winter edition of the Trends Journal reported that the common notion that Chinese investment in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and beyond was primarily real estate based missed the larger point: “…the Chinese are not only investing in real estate, they are occupying it. Chinese firms and Chinese families are moving out of their overpopulated, polluted and politically restrictive homeland and spreading their roots around the world. So, too, are its college grads who can’t find jobs at home, won’t work in factories and are searching the world to find their fortune.”

Chinese investment across the globe is as much about community as it is about commerce and economics. The initial wave of this investment may have hit (and continues to do so) the major real estate and technology sectors hard, but as the trend evolves, smaller investments in rural, off-the-beaten-path regions are sharply increasing. Those investments are becoming a significant part of the trend.

Global is more local than you think

In the US, evidence is growing that, as resistance to the prospect of Chinese investment in local communities weakens, these investments are working to revitalize economically devastated cities and even small towns. Chinese money is buying bridges in Ohio, unused farmland in New York, shopping centers in the south and small hotels in the Midwest.

Our earlier forecast holds strong. “The China buying spree is still in its early growth stage. Entrepreneurs, cities, communities, investors, real estate agents and businesses of all shapes and sizes would do well to contact Chinese consulates, make connections with local Chinese businesses, and join appropriate professional/trade associations to learn more about Chinese investment needs and expectations, and how they can best be filled.”

Do a little research in your own area and you may very well see tracts of land, abandoned shopping centers, vacant farm land, local businesses and community rebuilding initiatives that might benefit from reaching out to Chinese investors.

As the South China Morning Post reported earlier this month: “Chinese investments in the United States now exceed American investments in China.” And that investment is reaching communities that will, more and more, welcome the infusion of cash to improve infrastructure, encourage job growth and help in the struggle with vacant properties just dragging down property tax rolls.


Read more stories from this issue of Trends Monthly online.

Skip to content