We Americans blithely ignore the long-term effects of allowing foreign corporations to purchase the assets of our country in the form of companies, land, and resources. We are selling off our ability to produce wealth by allowing so many American corporations to be purchased by foreign corporations. It is not just foreign companies buying our assets that is the problem ? it is the state-owned and massively subsidized companies of China that are dangerous because China uses its state-owned enterprises as a strategic tool of the state. By pretending they are private companies abiding by free-market rules to our detriment makes us the biggest chumps on the planet. German economist Fredrich List, wrote, “The power of producing wealth is…infinitely more important than wealth itself.”
How many Americans paid attention to the news last year that Smithfield Foods was acquired by a Chinese corporation? Last September, shareholders approved the sale of the company to Shuanghui International Holdings Limited, the biggest meat processor in China. Smithfield Foods is the world’s largest pork producer, and Americans must now face the danger of polluted Chinese food since our FDA only inspects 2% of our food imports.
In the December 15, 2013, New York Post, Diane Francis, author of “Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country” wrote “Currently, American authorities only evaluate foreign takeovers on the basis of national-security issues or shareholder rights and securities laws. But these criteria are inadequate. A fairer test in the case of Smithfield, and future buyout attempts by China, should also require reciprocity: Only corporations from countries that allow Americans to buy large companies should be allowed to buy large American companies. That is why Washington must impose new foreign ownership restrictions based on the principle of reciprocity. The rule must be that foreigners can only buy companies if Americans can make similar buyouts in their countries”.
How many are aware that the chain of AMC Theaters is now owned by Chinese Corporation? Dalian Wanda Group Company owned by China’s richest man, billionaire real estate developer, Wang Jianlin, bought AMC Theatres in May 2012, creating the world’s largest theater chain. This means that the Chinese will now be in a position to shape public opinion and mold the minds of our children through entertainment media.
In January 2014, Motorola Mobility was sold by Google to Chinese corporation, Lenovo, which means that the nation that invented smart phones is just about entirely out of the business of producing smart phones in America. Lenovo is the same company that bought IBM’s line of personal computers in 2004. This acquisition will give one of China’s most prominent technology companies a broader foothold in the U. S.
Through strategic purchases, China is positioning itself to be our energy supplier as well. Since 2009, Chinese companies have invested billions of dollars acquiring significant percentages of shares of energy companies, such as The AES Corporation, Chesapeake Energy, and Oil & Gas Assets. In 2010, China Communications Construction Company bought 100% of Friede Goldman United, and in 2012, A-Tech Wind Power (Jiangxi) bought 100% of Cirrus Wind Energy.
Chinese companies are even acquiring healthcare companies: WuXiu Pharma Tech bought AppTec Laboratory Services, and Mindray Medical International bought Datascope Corporation in 2008; BGI-Shenzhen bought Complete Genomics in 2012, and Mindray Medical International bought Zonare Medical Systems in 2013.
Wall Street and the finance industry are not immune from acquisitions by Chinese corporations: Shenzhen New World Group bought Sheraton Universal Hotel in 2011; China Aviation Industrial Fund bought International Lease Finance Corporation in 2012; and Fosun bought One Chase Manhattan Plaza in 2013.
One of the earliest acquisitions by a Chinese corporation was when the Hoover brand was sold to Hong Kong, China-based firm Techtronic Industries after Maytag that owned Hoover was acquired by Whirlpool in 2006.
The acquisition of American companies by foreign corporations isn’t something new. Many prominent companies founded in America have been bought by corporations from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and other European countries in the latter half of the 20th Century. Most American don’t realize that such iconic American companies as BF Goodrich and RCA are now owned by French corporations, and that Carnation and Gerber are now owned by Swiss corporations.
Most foreign countries don’t allow 100% foreign ownership of their businesses, but sadly, the United States does not exercise the same prudence. We sell our companies to them, and they almost never sell theirs to us. This tilted playing field has gutted America’s economic power.
What is enabling Chinese companies to go on a buying spree of American assets? Trade deficits – our ever-increasing trade deficit with China over the past 20 years is transferring America’s wealth to China and making millionaires out of many Chinese. In 1994, our trade deficit with China was $29.5 billion, and it grew to $83.8 by 2001 when China was granted “Most Favored Nation” status and admitted to the World Trade Organization. By 2004, it had doubled to $162.3 billion. After a slight dip in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, the trade deficit grew to $318.4 billion in 2013. If you add the annual trade deficits for the past 20 years, it totals $3.15 trillion. China now has over one billion serious savers and more than a million millionaires whose assets when combined provide billions to spend to buy our assets.
In addition, it is our trade deficit with Japan that has enabled Japanese corporations to go a buying spree of American assets since the 1980s when such companies as Columbia Pictures Entertainment was acquired by the Sony Corporation of Japan in 1989, and Bridgestone Corporation of Japan bought Firestone in 1988. However, our highest trade deficit with Japan of $84.3 billion in 2007 was nearly one third of our current trade deficit with China. While we are still transferring wealth to Japan, it is a democracy and doesn’t have armed missiles pointed in our direction.
In theory, we have the means to protect ourselves from this. CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, has the power to regulate, approve and deny these purchases. However, it is rare for the CFIUS to block deals. “During 2011, the most recent year with data available, the CFIUS was notified 111 times of deals that fell under its purview. Of those 111 covered deals, 40 were investigated and just five were withdrawn during that investigation…This year, Chinese companies have bought 10 companies worth $10.5 billion, says Thomson Reuters. That’s more than 20% of the 484 U.S. companies that have been bought by foreign companies this year worth $43.6 billion, Thomson Reuters says.”
The 2013 Annual Report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states, “China presents new challenges for CFIUS, because investment by SOEs can blur the line between national security and economic security. The possibility of government intent or coordinated strategy behind Chinese investments raises national security concerns. For example, Chinese companies’ attempts to acquire technology track closely the government’s plan to move up the value-added chain. There is also an inherent tension among state and federal agencies in the United States regarding FDI from China. The federal government tends to be concerned with maintaining national security and protecting a rules-based, nondiscriminatory investment regime. The state governments are more concerned with local economic benefits, such as an expanded tax base and increased local employment, rather than a national strategic issue, especially as job growth has stagnated.”
The report, continues, “China has amassed the world’s largest trove of dollar-denominated assets. Although the true composition of China’s foreign exchange reserves, valued at $3.66 trillion, is a state secret, outside observers estimate that about 70 percent is in dollars. In recent years, China has become less risk averse and more willing to invest directly in U.S. land, factories, and businesses.”
Did we let the USSR buy our companies during the Cold War? No, we didn’t! We realized that we would be helping our enemy. This was pretty simple, common sense, but we don’t seem to have this same common sense when dealing with China.
China has a written plan to become the Super Power of the 21st Century. With regard to China’s military buildup, the report states, “PLA modernization is altering the security balance in the Asia Pacific, challenging decades of U.S. military preeminence in the region…The PLA is rapidly expanding and diversifying its ability to strike U.S. bases, ships, and aircraft throughout the Asia Pacific region, including those that it previously could not reach, such as U.S. military facilities on Guam.
It is time to wake up to the real dangers of our dangerously high trade deficits with China. The Communist Chinese government is not our friend. They are a geopolitical rival that is striving to replace the United States as the global hegemony. We should not let Chinese corporations acquire any more of our energy companies or technology-based companies if we want to maintain our national sovereignty.