The Chinese corporate presence is still small overseas, but it is growing fast.
Chinese companies invested more than $30 billion in foreign companies from 1996 to 2005, nearly $10 billion in 2004 and 2005 alone, according to an analysis by Usha Haley, a professor of international business at the University of New Haven. Lenovo helped start the frenzy in December 2004 by announcing it would acquire IBM's personal computer unit for $1.75 billion.
In the United States and Canada, Chinese companies now have about 3,500 investment projects, compared to 1,500 five years ago, according to an estimate by Ping Deng, a professor at Maryville University. Large state-owned companies jumped ahead; medium and small private companies are catching up.
Total investment in the United States is $4 billion to $7 billion, Ping said. In Europe, Chinese acquisitions last year totaled $563.3 million, according to the research company Dealogic.
Last year, 29 Chinese companies made their debut on U.S. stock exchanges, compared with 27 for the previous three years combined, according to the Bank of New York Mellon.
The number of U.S. visas issued to Chinese executives and managers who transferred to U.S. jobs within their companies nearly doubled to 2,043 between the 2004 and 2007 fiscal years. The current fiscal year is on pace to top that number, according to U.S. State Department data.
....Unlike the Japanese, whose high-profile arrival in the United States in the 1980s was at first greeted as a threat, Chinese businesses are being courted by states including Michigan, California, Illinois and Georgia.
Not that all arms are open.
Congressional scrutiny has focused on several investments, including the billions of dollars that government-owned funds are investing in top Wall Street institutions. National security concerns have scuttled several deals, including the attempted 2005 purchase of the oil giant Unocal and a $2.2 billion bid to buy the tech company 3Com in February.
In the Swedish coastal city of Kalmar, labor union and media criticism has been the backdrop for delayed Chinese plans to open a hotel and wholesale warehouse for Chinese-made commodities.
"China is developing very quickly and so people work very fast and don't plan very far ahead," said Angie Qian, the project manager. "In Sweden everything takes a much longer time."