Chinese do spend overseas

09:53, March 23, 2010      

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A weekend visit to any of the downtown hotels' conference centers is enough to learn what the well-to-do Chinese are up to - especially those who are running some businesses and already owned properties before they went skyrocketing last year.

The conference which I visited was divided into three large activities - except for a journalists' forum on low-carbon development, where I was invited to give a talk, occupying a distant small corner.

Of the three activities, there was an exhibition of overseas schools ready to take in Chinese students; a presentation on emigration opportunities for Chinese; and one show, which occupied ball rooms on two floors, of historical artifacts soon to be auctioned to collectors, institutional and private, with sales staff standing in the hallway passing out catalogs about still more art auctions to be held soon in other cities.

Together the three activities attracted a large crowd, much larger, to be sure, than the low-carbon forum. And the audience consisted mainly of well-dressed middle-aged people.

They pretty much pointed to where affluent Chinese are investing and preparing to invest their money. Among providers of the opportunities are, as it turns out, more and more overseas merchants. "Soon enough," a friend of mine said, upon hearing about what I saw, "Chinese will begin to buy up schools in America."

On the very same day, however, in another conference center in Beijing, central government officials and foreign businesspeople were talking about the American politicians' move to "take on" China and the imminent labeling of China as a currency manipulator.

People all know that China exports more than it imports, in merchandise trade. And that lends ground to those alleging that China is fixing its currency value. However, do they, especially people in the high-level economic conference, have any data showing the service trade between the two countries?

Or, when China and Germany are being put together as countries trying, again allegedly, to export their way out of the crisis, do people have data showing how much the Chinese spend on overseas services and how much the Germans are, such as on education?

Back in the 1980s, when many Americans were talking about their country being almost overtaken by Japan, they also complained about Japanese reluctance to buy cars made in the United States. But now, when China is being seen a main source of economic competition, can't they be slightly happier that the Chinese are much more willing to buy more goods and services from the US?

More importantly, most of the trade shows about overseas services are private-sector initiatives. Very few officials, foreign or Chinese, are seen there. But the expertise and advantages of China and those of the exporting countries are being fully tapped, thanks to the fact that they haven't got politicized and are kept as straight business.

Who says the Chinese are mercantilist?

Source: China Daily
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