China invests $1 billion in New York City

The Empire State Building is lit in red and yellow to mark the 60th anniversary of China's communist government September 30, 2009 in New York City. Perhaps the colors foreshadowed the recent investment Chinese real estate developers have made in the Empire State Building.
Credit: Mario Tama

Chinese companies and entrepreneurs have quietly invested $1 billion in New York City over the last year.

In the process, they have snagged parts of major city icons, like the Empire State Building and the Tappan Zee bridge.

From the New York Times:

Investors from China are snapping up luxury apartments and planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, which is the centerpiece of the rebuilding at ground zero. 

In the late '80s, a similar phenomenon that occurred involving Japan that caused quite a stir.

Sony Corporation bought Columbia Pictures in 1989, and the same year, Mitsubishi paid $846 million for 51 percent of the Rockefeller Group, owner of Rockefeller Center.

How were they received? This NY Times headline from Nov. 3, 1989, hints at the anxiety and xenophobia that transpired: "Japan Buys the Center of New York."

People were worried about foreigners having such a strong stake in major cultural symbols, and they weren't shy about saying as much.

But this time, with the U.S. economy in the tubes, most Americans are singing a different tune.

Most welcome the Chinese investment as a welcome boost.

After all, China has been investing all over the globe (Brazil, Africa, Europe, even the Caribbean). It only follows it would eventually settle on New York.

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