Bay Area Council Blog: China Archive


Council Cements Partnership with Key Chinese City

Fresh from cementing a new partnership agreement with the Chinese city of Nanjing, the Bay Area Council hosted a reception on Monday (Jan. 7) for the Nanjing Department of Commerce during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. This is the first sponsored partnership that the Council has formed with a municipal government in China. The Nanjing delegation was led by Commerce Department Deputy Director-General Zou Weikai, along with managers of life science parks from the two priority development districts of Jiangning and Jiangbei. The Deputy Director-General laid out in broad terms how he plans to support companies across a range of industries in developing business in his city.

Nanjing, the capital of the Jiangsu province and situated just one and a half hours away from the Bay Area Council’s China headquarters in Shanghai, was initially chosen by the Council as a partner due both to its political importance in the region and for its abundance of technology talent. The Council has had a long-standing partnership with the Gulou District of Nanjing, the political center of the city. However, with the influx of provincial and national funds for the development of the Nanjing’s peripheral districts, the Council engaged the municipal government in the renewal of its partnership to access more resources for Bay Area companies in China.

For more information about opportunities in Nanjing and upcoming delegation receptions, please contact Global Initiatives Director of Business Development Alex Foard.


Celebrating the Year of the Pig

Join the Bay Area Council for its 9th Annual Chinese New Year Celebration on February 13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco as we usher in the Year of the Pig. This premier networking event will commemorate the achievements of 2018 – including the opening of our Beijing office – as we forge exciting new opportunities ahead. The Council’s sub-national relationships with our district offices located in the Yangpu District of Shanghai, Yuhang District of Hangzhou, and Gulou District of Nanjing continue to expand bilateral trade and investment activity between the Bay Area and China. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities or to register, please contact Global Marketing Coordinator Karina Salomatina.

China Delegation 2

Council Opens New Office and New Agreements in China – Greeted Warmly At President Xi’s Trade Event

The U.S. and China may be locked in a simmering trade war, but that didn’t dampen the warm reception the Bay Area Council received as it led a delegation to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen last week, including a major international trade expo that featured Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Council, in its role operating the California-China Office of Trade and Investment, represented the only government entity from the United States to participate in the event. The Council and the 32 business delegates we led to China took part in numerous meetings and forums with top Chinese business and government leaders. The trip also included several landmarks for the Bay Area Council:

  • The opening of our new Beijing Office, staffed by a director and two support staff, with incredible support from MEBO Group
  • A three-year renewal of our contract with Shanghai’s Yangpu District, supporting a large-scale office, a business accelerator, and a vice president and 1-2 support staff
  • A new agreement in Shenzhen between the Bay Area Council and the Tsinghua-Berkeley-Shenzhen Institute on a multi-year collaboration that will support annual research reports, co-hosted events, and a support service for companies joining the new campus.

The visit began November 1 in Beijing, where Beijing Vice Mayor Chen hosted the Council and its delegates for an exclusive dinner reception. The following day, Council Executive Committee member and GE Digital CEO Bill Ruh delivered the keynote address at a major technology and innovation conference at ZGC technology park where he laid out a future roadmap for industrial software companies. Another forum later in the day featured Bay Area Council Economic Institute Senior Director Sean Randolph and delegates Dan Morrissett, CFO of Dignity Health; Duncan Turner, Partner at SOSV; and Kevin Xu, Chairman of the MEBO Group.

The delegation then traveled to Shanghai for the first-ever China International Import Exhibition (CIIE). Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the CIIE last year as a personal project to boost China’s import volume. President Xi personally opened the expo and later met individually with Bay Area Council member Simon Pang of Royal Business Bank, who discussed California’s sole presence at the event with President Xi. The Council extends its thanks to Sean Stein, U.S. Consul General in Shanghai, for meeting with us and briefing our delegation on the importance of the expo and on the status of Sino-American relations today.

In its role as a partner in the California-China Office of Trade and Investment, the Council hosted a trade booth at CIIE to promote trade and investment by Chinese companies in California. The booth served as the backdrop for the signing of an agreement between Council member Trefethen and Xie Chengbiao, Chairman of Pacific Island Holdings, that will bring Trefethen premium wines to China.

The trip concluded with a visit to Guangdong province where delegates met with officials from the Dongguan government to discuss how Bay Area businesses can participate in the Greater Pearl River Delta economic reforms taking shape. Municipal Government Party Secretary Zhang also provided a briefing on the “Greater Bay Area” project and hosted a visit to the city’s priority development zones.

The delegation came to a close in Shenzhen with the landmark signing of an agreement between the Bay Area Council and the Tsinghua-Berkeley-Shenzhen Institute. The agreement outlines a multi-year collaboration that will support annual research reports, co-hosted events, and a support service for companies joining the new campus. To learn more about the Bay Area Council’s China work, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.


Council Welcomes New Chinese Consul General

Sino-American relations may be strained, but that isn’t interfering with the Bay Area Council’s long-standing work to advance regional economic partnerships with China. The Council recently was honored to host a reception for new Chinese Consul General to San Francisco Donghua Wang welcoming him to the Bay Area and reaffirming our commitment to expanding and deepening bilateral trade and investment between our region and China. The Council has worked for more than 10 years to develop economic ties with China through four offices we operate in Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Beijing. The Council also partners with California to run the state’s China trade office.

In remarks during the reception, Consul General Wang reiterated the consulate’s perspective that California and China are economically complementary and the two sides have great potential for expanding trade and investment. He also spoke candidly about his personal thoughts on the trade war, which he believes is a deeply flawed policy that will see no winners. He called for a renewed perspective on trade talks that focuses on practical, mutually beneficial goals. Consul General Wang also spoke about intellectual property protection in China and requirements that foreign companies seeking to operate in China transfer technology to Chinese companies—two issues that have been at the center of the U.S.-China trade dispute.

The Consul General was joined at the reception by Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development Deputy Director Awinash Bawle; California Secretary for Environmental Protection Matthew Rodriquez; Deputy Consul General Ren Faqiang; Economic and Commercial Counselor Yang Yihang; and executives from more than 30 Bay Area companies. The Council extends its great appreciation to former Consul General Linquan Luo for his partnership during his leadership of the consulate. To engage in the Council’s China work, please contact Chief of Global Initiatives Del Christensen.

Shankar, India visit

Council Hosts India’s Technology Minister

On August 28 the Bay Area Council hosted a private dinner in Palo Alto with the Hon. Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s Minister of Electronics, IT, Law and Justice and top Silicon Valley executives. Discussion covered a range of topics including infrastructure, data policy, and India’s accelerating digital transformation. Part of the Council’s growing focus on India, the dinner was supported by Council Executive Committee member Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital, and Dr. Nandini Tandon, CEO Of Tenacity Global. Together, they co-chair the Council’s ongoing India project. In his remarks, Prasad said the Bay Area Council “should be the bridge between the Bay Area and India.”

The Council is working to better connect Bay Area companies with opportunities in India, which has the highest growth rate (7.7 percent) of any major country and now boasts the world’s fifth largest economy. A centerpiece of the Council’s current work is a report being prepared by the Economic Institute on economic reforms instituted under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as business sectors that connect most strongly with the Bay Area and offer the largest opportunities. For more information on the Council’s India work, please contact Senior Director Sean Randolph.


Start-Up Competition Highlights Bay Area-China Connections

As part of our ongoing work to build stronger economic and innovation connections between the Bay Area and China, the Bay Area Council on Thursday (July 26) held a startup pitch competition in partnership with the Yangpu District of Shanghai. Twenty companies competed from a wide range of industries and international backgrounds. Of the 20 participants, 10 were selected for thes finals in Yangpu, Shanghai in September. All finalists from Thursday’s event will receive awards in Yangpu ranging from $50,000 to $800,000. The event was hosted by Council member Chuck Comey of Morrison Foerster. Funding for the competition awards were provided by the Yangpu District of Shanghai, a BAC partner for over 10 years and a prosperous technology hub in the Yangtze Delta region of China.

The top three finalists from Thursday were Maya Ackerman of Alysia, a song writing application that adapts to the user’s voice; Raymond Liu of MiniSilicone: and, Siamak Sani of World Hearing Organization, which develops low-cost/high quality hearing-aids for impoverished regions. To engage in the Council’s China work, please contact Global Initiatives Chief Del Christensen.

trade war

Endgame: Tariffs, Technology and China

This opinion piece by Bay Area Council Economic Institute Senior Director Dr. Sean Randolph appeared in the Silicon Valley Business Journal in April 2018.

The United States and China are aggressively sparring over tariffs, trade and technology. The real issue isn’t about the lists of tariffs that each side has announced, but what endgame both sides expect. As an investor in China and a major destination for investment from China, for Silicon Valley the outcome matters.

Let’s be clear that the latest tariffs aren’t a Trump protectionist fluke. Action is needed. China is building an innovation system based not just on its considerable capabilities, but also on laws and policies designed to extract technology from foreign partners.

One of those strategies, Made in China 2025, identifies priority technology sectors where China plans to lead global markets, displacing foreign technologies as rapidly as possible. Where it can’t develop those technologies independently, the plan calls for China to acquire them. In the meantime, Western companies are required to store their China-generated data on government servers, take on Chinese joint venture partners as a condition of doing business, and transfer their technology and source code.

This is happening as China’s market is off limits to companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, and key sectors are reserved for Chinese companies. Internet technologies must be “secure and controllable” — by the government. All of this inherently advantages Chinese companies and disadvantages foreign ones.

There are two types of tariffs announced by the United States: first, industry-specific tariffs on steel and aluminum, imposed on national security grounds (a risky precedent); and second, tariffs to address the bilateral trade deficit and rebalance the technology playing field. There, the Trump administration announced an initial tranche of $3 billion, which was met by a $3 billion response from China. Then the U.S. announced a $50 billion list, met again by $50 billion from China, after which President Trump suggested another $100 billion. What happens next?

What should happen is that both sides go into a room and make a deal. The tariff announcements are designed to get China’s attention, show we’re serious, and get them to negotiate. Past administrations from both parties have repeatedly tried negotiation, but with little lasting effect. The Trump team has chosen to show its muscle up front.

This can work, and taking a tougher stance with China has bipartisan support. But there are risks. Tariffs are a crude tool, with little connection to technology policy. And undisciplined U.S. tactics could backfire if both sides actually implement the tariffs.

Last year, California exported $16 billion in goods to China, many of which show up on China’s list. California’s agricultural interests — high-value nuts, wine and grapes — are particularly vulnerable. The aircraft industry, cars and chemicals are also targets. Higher steel and aluminum prices will increase the cost of everything from building materials to Teslas to craft beer cans.
Trump has said “it’s easy to win a trade war.” That’s wrong — in a trade war, everybody loses. As the world’s two largest economies, China and the United States have to live together. President Xi’s statement this week that China will accelerate its market opening is a signal that China understands the game.

In the end, the U.S. should press for a market opening that’s not just near-term and tactical, but long-term and structural. The best strategy would be to orchestrate our trading partners in a united front against China’s trade infractions, initially in the World Trade Organization, and bilaterally target Chinese restrictions with reciprocal measures — if negotiations are unproductive.
But we have the process we have. It’s in the administration’s court now to manage the process, make a deal, and minimize the damage that California and other businesses will suffer from a real trade war.

china innovation report

Opinion: What ZTE Deal Tells Us About Chinese Technological Prowess

(This OpEd by Bay Area Council Economic Institute Senior Director Sean Randolph ran in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, June 17.)

By Sean Randolph

The interdependence of the United States and China is easily lost in the political debate and headlines. The future of trade between the world’s two largest economies depends on policies that recognize that interdependence and the national interests behind them. ZTE is a case in point, where the United States has penalized the company for its actions, and President Trump has correctly decided not to shut it down. ZTE also tells us something about the technological race that both countries are engaged in.

China is climbing the innovation ladder. Whether from the standpoint of government investment in science; internationally-cited scientific articles; R&D on artificial intelligence; advances in mobile commerce; the strong position of companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei; or the explosive growth of domestic accelerators and venture capital, China’s capacity to innovate is advancing with its economy. At some point, the technology gap between the United States and China will significantly shrink.

But not yet.

It’s easy to think of China as a relentless juggernaut whose growth and technological competitiveness is preordained. Besides the technology generated from market competition  China has adopted a suite of Chinese industrial policies designed to create national champions, dominate or lead in key strategic sectors, and extract technology from foreign companies — a cause for deep concern in the U.S. and other economies, which is now being challenged bilaterally and in the World Trade Organization. But even if they went unchallenged, having these policies doesn’t mean that Chinese technology is on a par with that of the United States — or soon will be.

Take, for example, the explosive growth of venture investment in China. Last year it reached levels approaching that of the United States. But as impressive as this may be, it’s important to understand the large role that government money plays. Unlike the United States, where venture investment is overwhelmingly private, much of the venture capital deployed in China comes from government entities.

More than $230 billion reportedly has been deployed so far, including most recently  as much as $15 billion in the semiconductor sector. While this is significant, and leverages private investment, its source suggests that Chinese and U.S. venture numbers aren’t strictly comparable.

Or take Chinese cell phone maker ZTE, the fourth-largest provider of smart phones in the United States and producer of a range of consumer electronics and telecommunications infrastructure equipment. Two months ago, the United States barred American companies from selling components, including semiconductors, to ZTE, because of the company’s violation of Iran and North Korean sanctions (an issue unrelated to the current tariff dispute). Soon after that ZTE, one of China’s leading technology companies, announced that it would stop major business operations.

How could that happen?

Because ZTE depends heavily on U.S. companies such as Qualcomm for the semiconductors in its phones and on other U.S. suppliers for an array of critical components. Despite years of enormous government investment designed to vault China to the forefront of chip design, nearly 90 percent of the $190 billion in chips used in Chinese products are either imported or produced in China by foreign-owned companies, and the sophistication of its production continues to lag. The proposed U.S. cutoff may prod China to accelerate its efforts to upgrade the quality of domestically produced chips, but for now it’s still just a goal.

So what are we to make of this? One takeaway is that while innovation in China is accelerating, in key fields U.S. companies are continuing to innovate faster. Notwithstanding the government’s support and the sophisticated capabilities of companies Tencent, Alibaba and Huawei, the lead in innovation is still anybody’s game and the United States continues to hold strong cards.

The other takeaway from the ZTE case is that when it comes to trade and technology, the United States and China are deeply intertwined. ZTE phones sold in China and around the world, and counted in U.S. trade statistics as Chinese exports, in fact incorporate high levels of U.S.-made content. Much the same can be said for Huawei, whose products are largely made with externally sourced components.

President Trump is right to make a deal that helps keep ZTE in business. The penalties it imposes are draconian and appropriate. Our goal should not be to bring down a high-profile pillar of China’s economy. The world’s two largest economies, and their  companies are deeply connected in ways that are both challenging and beneficial. Finding a way of operating that recognizes the interests of both sides will be essential for the future.

Sean Randolph is senior director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and author of its recent report “Chinese Innovation: China’s Technology Future and What It Means for Silicon Valley.”



The timing was ideal. As President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, guests at the Bay Area Council’s 2018 Pacific Summit on Tuesday were sitting down to hear from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on what it all meant. In a lengthy conversation with Andrew Westergren, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Strategy and Corporate Development for Visa, in front of almost 200 top executives and other leaders, Rice candidly acknowledged the unconventional way in which the summit came together but also said it was worth a try given the failure of past efforts. Rice also gave her insights and analysis about the tumultuous G7 meeting in Canada, talked about U.S.-China relations as a trade war looms and provided insights into the motives and agenda of Russia President Vladimir Putin.

With national attention intensely focused on the issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, the timing was also perfect for a lively conservation with two leaders of the #MeToo movement. Janet Liang, President of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, moderated the discussion with Adama Iwu, Vice President of State Government and Community Relations for Visa, and Tina Tchen, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and Partner at Buckley Sandler. Iwu was honored as a Time magazine Person of the Year for her work in founding We Said Enough, a group focused on exposing and changing a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination in the California legislature. Tchen is a leader of Time’s Up, which works to support women who have suffered sexual harassment or discrimination. The three gave their personal insights on the #MeToo movement and the cultural and institutional changes that must occur in order to end sexual harassment and discrimination.

The audience also was treated to sobering and humorous remarks from renowned New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks, in his comments and in a Q&A with McKinsey & Co. Senior Director and West Coast Regional Manager Kausik Rajgopal, talked about cultural and political divides in the U.S. and how a sense of community that has united people in the past has been replaced by tribalism, which by its nature divides people.

See photos of the Pacific Summit>>

The conversations continued later in the afternoon in smaller group discussions, with PwC Managing Partner Jeanette Calandra moderating a conversation with Tchen, UPS Northern California District President Rosemary Turner leading a discussion with Dr. Rice and TMG Partners leader Denise Pinkston guiding a talk with Brooks. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman opened the summit with insights about the Bay Area’s run of economic success and the housing and transportation challenges that threaten to pull the rug out from under it.

The Bay Area Council extends its thanks to Visionary sponsor Kaiser Permanente and the many other sponsors whose support is critical to funding our public policy and advocacy. See a full list of all Pacific Summit sponsors. Our thanks also to the Kohl Mansion for hosting us.



California is a global innovation and economic powerhouse, but currently does not have a statewide, comprehensive plan to grow its economy. That would change under legislation (AB 2596) that the Bay Area Council is sponsoring with the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and Valley Vision. AB 2596, authored by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley, Kevin Kiley and Sharon Quirk-Silva, would authorize the creation a statewide economic development plan to grow jobs, better coordinate economic activities across counties and regions and boost the state’s competitiveness. Having a clear, unified strategy can also help protect the state against future economic downturns and ensure that economic opportunities are being spread more evenly across the entire state. AB 2596 on Tuesday won unanimous approval by the Assembly Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee and now heads to Assembly Appropriations. Just ahead of the vote, an OpEd by Council CEO Jim Wunderman and Greater Sacramento Economic Council CEO Barry Broome that ran in the Sacramento Bee argued for passage of the bill. To add your company to the growing list of our AB 2596 supporters, please contact Director for Government Relations Cornelious Burke.

Read the OpEd in support of AB 2596>>