China sustains US cities: Bloomberg

Updated: 2015-04-22 06:15

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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China sustains US cities: Bloomberg

Xu Chen (left), president and CEO of Bank of China USA, with Zhang Qiyue (center), Chinese consul general in New York, and Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and majority owner of Bloomberg L.P. The three were featured speakers at the 2015 China General Chamber of Commerce Finance and Real Estate Forum held on Tuesday at the Bloomberg headquarters in New York. Xu is new president of CGCC. WANG LEI / XINHUA

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Tuesday that Chinese real estate investments in the city should be viewed positively because they "help create and sustain" cities like the Big Apple.

Chinese companies have invested more than $14 billion in America, most of it going into real estate, which has created jobs for more than 70,000 Americans.

"In the press these days, we sometimes see fear-mongering and hand-wringing about what these investments mean for cities like New York. I have a simple answer: These investments help create and sustain cities like New York," said Bloomberg, also majority owner of financial data and media company Bloomberg LP, in remarks at Bloomberg headquarters in Manhattan, where the 2015 China General Chamber of Commerce Finance and Real Estate Forum was held. Bloomberg LP was one of the event's sponsors.

"Our strength has always sprung from our openness to the outside world," he said. "Nearly 40 percent of New York City's population today was born in another country, outside America. Forty percent."

Bloomberg cautioned that "it's very easy to say, 'Outsiders take jobs away from people that are citizens,' but that's not true." History, he said, shows that people coming from outside create "an awful lot more jobs than they take. That would be true in China just as it is true in the United States."

Bloomberg said that real estate is exactly the kind of sector in which US-China cooperation can benefit both countries and their economies. He cited the development of One World Trade Center, which had difficulty attracting tenants and financiers at a time when a recession gave investors pause.

"Critics said that the lack of interest was evidence that the tower should never have been built," Bloomberg said. "But then, company Vantone signed a long-term lease for five floors to create a place where Chinese and New York business leaders could meet and discuss business opportunities, which is exactly the kind of interaction the World Trade Center should foster," he said, referring to Chinese real estate developer Vantone, established by Chairman Feng Lun.

"Five floors doesn't sound like much in a building of 100-plus floors, but Vantone's investment sent a critically important signal to the rest of the market, and it showed the confidence that Chinese investors had in the future of New York City, not to mention the future of downtown New York, where conventional wisdom was that everybody was going to leave, nobody would want to live, and nobody would want to have a business," Bloomberg said.

Since then, the World Trade Center has signed other tenants, one of the highest-profile ones being media company Condé Nast, which began moving into its downtown location in November last year. The company signed a lease to occupy 24 floors.

Bloomberg commended the Chinese government's efforts to liberalize its markets, saying that it will lead to further innovation and more business opportunities.

Zhang Qiyue, Chinese consul general in New York, addressed concerns about China's economy slightly slowing — "a new normal," she said — adding that this is an indication of the government's pursuit of improved quality and performance. Officials are "very committed to seeking quality over quantity, efficiency over speed", she said.

"Even though our economy is going to grow slower, I want to say that this 'slower' is not 'slow.' You have to remember: It's slower, but it's not slow," she said.

"The new normal is about building a modern, innovative, energy-efficient and consumer-driven economy that delivers equitable and sustainable growth to the Chinese people," Zhang said. "So slower is actually leaner, greener, more productive and more efficient. In other words, slower is better."