D.C. officials traveled to China earlier this month with hopes of encouraging Chinese investors to funnel money into D.C. businesses.
From Nov. 7 to 14, Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council member Jack Evans and local business owners traveled to China to meet with investors looking to inject billions of dollars into D.C. businesses. Officials on the trip said it was meant to strengthen economic ties with China by creating a stronger trade connection that will attract Chinese investors to D.C. businesses.
The group, which includes Georgetown University President John DeGioia, met with the mayors of Beijing and Shanghai and the richest man in China, Wang Jianlin, who is worth $31 billion, according to Forbes.
Evans, who represents Foggy Bottom and is the chair of the Council’s finance committee, said the group sat in on more than two dozen meetings with Chinese investors. Evans also took a trip to China more than a decade ago with former Mayor Anthony Williams.
“Chinese are looking to invest money – literally billions of dollars – particularly in stable environments, and there’s no more stable environment in the world right now than the United States, and certainly in the capital, Washington D.C.,” Evans said.
Officials also established a sister city relationship with Beijing during the trip, which will strengthen cultural and trade connections. Evans said the group also wanted to promote Chinese tourism in D.C., since he said more tourists visit the District from China than anywhere else.
“They are now our largest tourist base,” Evans said. “It was a good trip for the mayor and myself and others to be able to, first of all, thank the Chinese for coming to Washington because tourism is our No. 1 industry here.”
Danny Leipziger, a professor of practice in international business management, said D.C. is attractive for Chinese investments because it is a high-income and high-growth area. While it is below the national average in job growth, D.C. has seen a roughly 8 percent increase in job growth since the worst part of the recession five years ago.
He added that “trade missions” like Bowser’s China trip are common among delegations seeking international investments, and that the United States has done similar trips on a national level.
“I think it’s a way to make these connections,” he said. “So I think D.C., because it’s not a state, may fall in between the cracks. So this is probably not a bad idea.”