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争夺中国投资,美国还需努力

Nin-Hai Tseng 2012年02月27日

近日,中国国家副主席习近平先后访问了美国和爱尔兰。比较一下两国的待客之道,如果你是中国,你愿意投资哪个国家?

习近平掌握着中国的钱袋子

????爱尔兰的公共财政状况一度糟糕透顶,两年前差一点就破产了。但它还是有一、两件事值得美国学习。这个岛国在获得数十亿美元的国际救助资金后,一直在努力实现经济复苏,如今正在张开双臂,欢迎中国投资者。

????上周一,有望出任下届中国国家主席的习近平结束了对爱尔兰为期三天的访问。这也是他此次世界巡访途中唯一的欧盟(European Union)国家。这次世界巡访还包括此前访问的美国以及随后的土耳其。就在他到访之后几天,欧洲持续的债务危机,尤其是希腊财政问题,给整个欧洲银行业造成了重大损失。

????爱尔兰希望能成为中国进一步拓展欧洲市场的门户。相比过去主要是从英美等发达国家寻找潜在投资者,凯尔特之虎如今更看重几乎没有债务负累的发展中国家,而中国正是首选。

????“我们进行了非常富有成果的会谈,爱尔兰和中国在投资、教育和商务领域达成了众多重要的谅解备忘录,”爱尔兰总理恩达?肯尼表示

????言语之间的热情与肯定与美国形成鲜明对比。上上周,美国官员们在接待习近平的到访时,显露出来的是犹豫和不满,不满于中国人为压低汇率,不满于中国侵犯人权等等,不一而足。美国副总统乔?拜登在美国国务院(State Department)的午宴上祝酒时称,美国可以和中国展开合作,“但前提是公平竞争”。拜登发出此番言论的同时,随着美国进入大选年,最近几个月美国对中国态度的日渐强硬。

????诚然,这样的担忧不容忽视,但如此强硬的辞令对鼓励中国公司投资美国毫无益处。

????“很多中国企业高管和政府官员仍在为几项对美投资引发的政治争议和遭遇的监管阻力而感到沮丧,”私募股权公司凯雷投资集团(Carlyle Group)的董事总经理马鼎文在一份政策备忘录中写道。习近平访问美国前夕,这份政策备忘录由美国外交协会(Council of Foreign Relations)出版。马鼎文还说,中国企业高管经常提到中国海洋石油有限公司(Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation)收购加州优尼科石油公司(Unocal Oil Company)失败的记忆,后者最终于2005年被雪佛龙(Chevron)收购。

????“因此,尽管大多数的中国在美投资交易都获得了批准,或者无需任何审批,但很多中国企业高管还是认为美国不欢迎中国投资,”马鼎文写道。

????不可否认,随着中国打开经济大门,近年来这个东亚巨人的对美投资在稳步增长。根据总部位于纽约的经济研究咨询公司Rhodium Group提供的初步统计数据,2011年,中国这个全球第二大经济体向美国投资了约50亿美元。研究总监赛罗?哈内曼指出,这一数字与前一年基本持平,可能还略低一些。对美投资持平不一定说明中国人认为美国的吸引力下降了,而是因为对欧投资的步伐在加快。

????Ireland's public finances became so disastrous that it almost went bankrupt less than two years ago. But it still has a thing or two to teach the U.S. As the island nation tries to recover after being rescued with a multi-billion dollar international bailout, Ireland is welcoming Chinese investors.

????On Monday, Xi Jinping, who's expected to be China's next president, ended a three-day visit to Ireland. It was the only European Union country he visited on his world tour, which included a stop in the U.S. last week and continued with a visit to Turkey this week. And his visit came only days before Europe's ongoing debt crisis, in particular Greece's financial woes, drove a slew of heavy losses across the European banking sector.

????Ireland is positioning itself to become China's gateway into doing more business in Europe. Though in the past the Celtic Tiger looked mostly to developed economies including the U.S. and Britain for potential investors, officials are now focusing more on emerging markets that aren't nearly as saddled with debt. And China appears at the top of the list.

????"We had very fruitful discussion in our meeting, and we also concluded a number of important memoranda of understanding between Ireland and China in the areas of investment, education and business," Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said.

????The tone is far different from that of the U.S., where officials greeted Xi's stop last week with hesitation and a list of grievances, ranging from China's artificially depressed currency to human rights abuses. During a toast at a State Department lunch, Vice President Joe Biden declared the U.S. could cooperate with China "only if the game is fair." His remarks come as the U.S. hardened its language toward China in recent months amid an election year.

????Needless to say, such concerns aren't something to ignore, but the rhetoric does little to encourage Chinese companies to pour investments into the U.S.

????"Many Chinese executives and government officials remain frustrated by the political controversy or regulatory resistance engendered by a few investments," wrote David Marchick, a managing director with private equity firm Carlyle Group, in a policy memo published by the Council of Foreign Relations ahead of Xi's U.S. stop. Marchick added that Chinese executives often point to memories of Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation's failed attempt to acquire California-based Unocal Oil Company, which Chevron (CVX) acquired in 2005.

????"Consequently, many Chinese executives believe the United States is unwelcoming of Chinese investment, even though the vast majority of Chinese investments in the United States have either been approved or have not required any approval," he notes.

????To be sure, Chinese investments into the U.S. have steadily risen over the years as the East Asian giant opens its economic doors. In 2011, the world's second-largest economy invested about $5 billion into the U.S., according to preliminary tallies by New York City-based economic research and advisory firm Rhodium Group. Research Director Thilo Hanemann notes that this is about the same level as the previous year, perhaps slightly less. The flat figure doesn't necessarily imply that China views the U.S. as any less attractive, but rather that investments in Europe has carried greater momentum.

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