It's a happy Chinese New Year for some Bay Area businesses

Updated: 2015-01-20 06:36

By Chang Jun(China Daily USA)

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It's almost time to celebrate the Chinese New Year, which will fall on Feb 19 this year. After attending several year-end receptions and kickoff ceremonies for Chinese enterprises-sponsored events, I got the impression they will retain their strong commitment to the Bay Area and beyond in the years to come.

Chinese investors will continue their investment in various areas and search for new cooperation across industry sectors. Areas of interest for Chinese investors so far in the Bay Area include real estate, commercial banking, cultural exchanges and entertainment.

It's a happy Chinese New Year for some Bay Area businessesOn Jan 15, Wing Lung Bank, a Hong Kong-based, medium-sized private bank and subsidiary of China Merchants Bank, announced that it had broken even financially after only starting operations in the Bay Area in July.

"The good news came to us as an exciting surprise," said Helen Liu, general manager of Wing Lung Bank's branch in San Francisco. "We'll strive to expand our business in the Bay Area and beyond."

Established in 1933, Wing Lung Bank came to the United States in 1984, opening an office in Los Angeles with the goal of developing business in California and the US for its parent company.

Xia Xiang, economic and commercial counselor from the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, who also attended the reception, said he is excited to learn about the strong performance of Wing Lung.

"The opening of the San Francisco branch is an important step of China Merchants Bank for its globalization move as Chinese banks have to embrace the international financial market, which is irresistible." Xia said.

The State-owned China Construction Bank is expected to be the next Chinese bank to enter the San Francisco financial marketplace, Xia said.

"The bank had submitted its application to the US financial regulatory authority two years ago, and the case is still pending," he said.

In 2011, the Bank of Communications (BOCOM) announced the opening of a San Francisco branch. About 70 percent of its customers are Chinese enterprises operating in the US.

BOCOM offers its renminbi (RMB) services, which include deposit, wire, loans, and holding RMB accounts at the bank.

In 2012, the US Federal Reserve approved the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd's (ICBC) acquisition of a majority stake in the American arm of Bank of East Asia. China's biggest bank became the first Beijing-controlled financial institution to acquire retail bank branches in the US. ICBC now has 10 branches in California.

In addition to the banking industry, Chinese enterprises also lead in the cultural exchanges arena, using the historical Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), held in San Francisco in 1915, as the backdrop.

On Jan 24, the US-China Business and Culture Association will lead a group of Chinese enterprises that participated in the PPIE 100 years ago, to visit the Bay Area and showcase their century-old, time-tested products.

"It's taken us lot of thoughts and efforts before we decide to host our Panama-Pacific International 100th Anniversary in San Francisco," said Tie Zhang, president of the US-China trade organization, which has offices in Sacramento and Shanghai.

"We want to trace back the glorious history of cultural and business exchanges between China and the US 100 years ago," said Zhang, who added that the event also aims to provide a platform for Chinese and American enterprises through which they can share common ground and dialogue.

Zhang said one of his delegates from China is Fenjiu Group in Shanxi, a clear-liquor producer that had won global recognition for its distilled liquor at the 1915 PPIE.

"Let's see what kind of new stories will be told at our centennial celebration this Saturday," he said.

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