Bay Area Council Blog: China Archive


Restricting Immigration Hurts the Bay Area, Council Members Say

Recent actions and statements by President Trump and his administration on immigration, including an executive order ostensibly banning citizens and others from certain predominately Muslim countries from entering the U.S., have sparked strong reaction and debate nationwide and here in the Bay Area. The Bay Area Council joins with many others that are expressing serious policy concerns about the ban and its impacts – social, human and economic.

A survey this week (Feb. 1) of our members – while not unanimous – highlighted the depth of those concerns, with 79 percent saying that the immigration ban will have a negative impact on the Bay Area and 13 percent saying the impact will be positive. A larger 88 percent of the 183 companies that responded said draft proposals to limit or do away with H1-B visas, which allow U.S. employers and others to temporarily employ workers in specialty occupations, would negatively impact our region as we compete for talent in a global economy, while 9 percent said the Bay Area would benefit from restrictions.

As a member-driven, nonpartisan organization that has focused for more than 70 years on making the Bay Area the most innovative, globally competitive, and sustainable region in the world, the Bay Area Council knows well the incredible value and importance of both home-grown and immigrant talent to our region, and nation.

The Bay Area is the thriving, diverse and economically productive region it is today because of the immense contributions that immigrants have made over many, many generations. Our many strong connections with the global community interweave natives and immigrants into the business, social and cultural fabric and history of the Bay Area, a region that firmly embraces the values of inclusion, diversity and freedom.

Many of our greatest companies have been founded by former immigrants – and the children and grandchildren of immigrants — who came here seeking opportunity and the freedom to realize their dreams. Some are here temporarily. Most become regular American citizens. They have been responsible for some of our greatest discoveries—discoveries that have made the United States and the world a better place for millions of people. They have been a tremendous source of ideas, innovation, investment and leadership. And, immigrants have been a great source of talent for our many employers.

Protecting our national interests and the safety of our citizens is extremely important, but we must be equally careful not to infringe on the civil and human rights for which we stand. The Bay Area Council has long advocated for federal action on immigration reform, and we continue to believe that such reform should be developed comprehensively and thoughtfully.


Sample of anonymous pro and con comments from the survey

“California is the manifestation of immigrant ingenuity and investment. This state is held as an example across the world of what an economy looks like when we unleash boundless opportunity. These [Executive Orders] will damage the talent pool, thereby limiting the source of new ideas and energy. Growth always suffers when we shut the door on immigrants.”

“I believe we needed to do something. We will adjust and adapt as we always have. Citizens first. Immigrants 2nd, so long as they follow the proper rules to become citizens.”

“These executive orders are extremely damaging, in terms of inhumane treatment of people, violation of civil liberties, economic health of the region, state and nation, and national security.”


What the President-Elect Should Know about Trade, Manufacturing & Jobs

A wave of working-class anger and discontent over lost manufacturing jobs is credited by many with helping Donald Trump win the White House, but a Bay Area Council Economic Institute analysis released this week (Dec. 14) suggests that a protectionist response on foreign trade and pulling back from free trade agreements, in particular, could have serious economic downsides for the U.S. and California. The analysis argues instead for boosting domestic competitiveness through aggressive worker retraining to adapt to an increasingly knowledge-based economy, reforming tax policy to incentivize new business investment and doubling down on free trade expansion. The analysis was released the same day President-elect Trump met with a number of leading tech titans for a conversation that was expected to cover many of the same issues. The Economic Institute is sharing the analysis with the Trump transition team.

Read the full report>>

Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Expected To Increase 11 Percent From 2009

Council Doubling Down on Solving Regional Commute Mess

The Bay Area Council just loves a good challenge, and there is perhaps no bigger challenge for the region than bringing some relief to the congested mess that is our transportation system. The Council’s Executive Committee, meeting at member company Facebook in Menlo Park, on Thursday endorsed a 2017 policy platform that will direct significantly more time, energy and resources to finding and implementing both short-term and longer-term solutions to the region’s grinding traffic and overwhelmed mass transit systems. The Executive Committee under the leadership of Chair Michael Covarrubias of TMG Partners also renewed the Council’s priority policy areas from 2016 that include expanding housing, closing the workforce skills gap and securing the region’s long-term water supply in the face of continuing drought and increased competition among urban, environmental and agricultural interests.

The message was clear, however, that the highest priority must be on fixing the region’s dysfunctional commute, which ranks among the worst in the country and threatens to undermine the Bay Area’s economic success. Michael Matthews, Director of California Public Policy for Facebook, emphasized the importance of commute improvement in his remarks welcoming the Council to the social media giant’s campus, saying it is a key issue for the company along with housing (just today, Facebook announced a $20 million commitment to help local nonprofit housing and rental assistance programs).

Longer commutes, slower traffic and congested mass transit are choking the region’s economic productivity and putting us at growing competitive disadvantage with other states and regions. The Council has already begun laying the groundwork for a bold and aggressive regional transportation improvement vision that will be unveiled in the coming months. In addition, the Council will be exploring new technologies that can help manage the demand side of the transportation equation, promoting the development of autonomous vehicles and continuing our work to increase the use of private commuter shuttles. Expanding public and private water transportation services will figure prominently, and builds on great progress the Council has already made to increase public ferry service around the entire bay and promote fast-emerging private water taxi services.

Housing, of course, is another area on which the Council will continue to put heavy focus. Our leadership and advocacy this year helped win passage of the only significant housing bill in Sacramento – SB 1069 to expand accessory dwelling units (also known as in-law units) — and elevate the housing issue among elected leaders who as a result are now pointing to 2017 as the year of housing. The Council also backed affordable housing measures in Santa Clara and Alameda counties that both passed last month.  Stay tuned for further details on planning for our work on housing, transportation, workforce and water policy. 2017 is going to be a big year.


Big Election Wins for Bay Area, Council on Housing, Transportation

Millions of Bay Area commuters could breathe a sigh of relief Tuesday when 70 percent of voters passed Measure RR to fix and upgrade BART, the region’s aging and overcrowded mass transit backbone. The Bay Area Council was a leading advocate for Measure RR, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the campaign and countering vocal, but misguided opposition led by state Sen. Steve Glazer that would have been content to see the measure fail and watch BART descend into chaos. The $3.5 billion Measure RR raises will help keep the system running, increase ridership capacity, keep cars off congested roads and highways and keep the region moving.

It was one of several successful measures across the region that the Council was backing to invest in affordable housing and transportation. Measure B in Santa Clara County also reached the 70 percent threshold and will generate $6.5 billion to extend BART to Silicon Valley, expand Caltrain and fix local roads. That campaign was led by Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino. Also in Santa Clara County, Measure A passed with flying colors and will provide $950 billion for a variety of affordable housing programs. In Alameda County, Measure A1 will provide $580 billion for affordable housing. The Council also endorsed Measure KK in Oakland to invest $600 million in affordable housing, transportation and other vital city services.

On the Presidential front the nonpartisan Council didn’t take sides, but is now working to see where we may have agreement with President-elect Donald Trump and where we may need to advocate on issues important to ensuring the Bay Area economy remains strong. Trump signaled during the campaign his support for massive infrastructure investment, including for transportation, water and energy. He also identified early education as an area he supports. On trade, the President-elect has voiced strong concerns about free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership which the Council supports. A report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute is preparing to release next week examines the huge benefits of foreign trade to local, state and national economies. Trump’s position on climate change may also put him at odds with California’s global leadership on clean energy technology, a growing area of the state’s economy that the Council has long embraced. Immigration may be another area where the Council calls for moderation on policies that could hurt the ability of employers to attract needed talent.

Statewide, the Council nearly ran the table in its endorsements. Of the eight propositions for which the Council took a position, all but one went the right way.

See a full results roundup of the Council’s ballot positions>>



Council Leads Tech Delegation to China

A high-level delegation of Bay Area entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors and scientists led by Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman this week (Oct. 19) completed a successful one-week visit to China to attract new technology investment to the Bay Area. The group included Joint Bioenergy Institute CEO Dr. Jay Keasling, a pioneer in synthetic biology and associate director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Delegates participated in investment matchmaking events in the Yangpu District of Shanghai, the Yuhang (Future Tech City) in Hangzhou and the Gulou District in Nanjing—the Council maintains offices in all three districts. The delegation also visited Tsinghua University and Zhongguancun Technology Park in Beijing.

Other highlights of the trip included a private dinner hosted by the Bank of China at their Shanghai Headquarters Penthouse; UC Berkeley alumni events in Shanghai and Beijing; a private meeting in the Zhejiang Provincial Party Headquarters; a meeting with IBM China Chief Technology Officer Xiaowei Shen; and dinner at the home of Hanhai Investment Group Chairman Wang. The Council also met with numerous top-level Chinese government officials, including Liu Linlin, Director of American & Oceanian Affairs in the Ministry of Commerce; Guo Hong, Director General of Zhongguancun Tech Park; Li Yueqi, Party Secretary of Yangpu District; Xie Jiangang, Mayor of Yangpu District; Yao Zhiwen, Director General of Organization Department of Zhejiang Province; Xie Zhicheng, Vice Mayor of Nanjing City; and, Ai Xuefeng, Vice Mayor of Shenzhen.

The Council will continue to serve as the investor relations team for these companies as they attract important technology investments into the Bay Area from China. The Council’s business development platform in China is available to help all Bay Area companies and organizations to access the growing markets of China and attract investment at home. To engage in the Council’s China work, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.


Council Builds Stronger Economic, Trade & Investment Connections with Nanjing

The Bay Area Council, in collaboration with the Gulou District of Nanjing, recently completed a trade show promoting Bay Area businesses and Council members in the economically important Yangtze Delta region. The event was led by Deputy Mayor Tong and attended by over 400 representatives from the Nanjing business community along with Council members Woods Bagot, HSBC, Dolby, PwC, Suning, Finnegan and Mitsubishi. In remarks during the event, Council Senior Vice President Bing Wei and Woods Bagot Vice President Peal Huang drew awareness to investment opportunities in the Bay Area.

The event doubled as a celebration of the establishment of the Nanjing-Bay Area Innovation Center; a startup co-working space sponsored by the municipal government with consulting support from the Bay Area Council. The project provides a facility for startup companies from the Bay Area to accelerate their business in China and a venue for venture capital firms to track the progress of the innovation economy in the Nanjing. Oakland-based startup Labor-Link was the first to register after the formal opening and will receive support from the municipal government in growing their client base amongst the cities many electronics manufacturers. To engage in the Council’s China work, please contact Global Business Development Chief Del Christensen.


Council’s Work to Expand Bay Area-China Trade Highlighted

As leaders from the world’s largest economies gathered in Hangzhou last week, we are reminded of China’s rising global responsibilities. Protocol spats aside, there was broad agreement at the G20 Summit on the need for collaboration and creativity. Chinese President Xi Jinping urged major economies to drive growth through innovation, in line with the government’s latest Five Year Plan. Exemplary to this strategy has been the Bay Area Council and its partnerships connecting the Bay Area and China. The Council’s Hangzhou office was recently highlighted in Chinese media for its contribution to innovation and business for the region. In an interview with Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen, the Bay Area is praised for its technological and entrepreneurial achievements. Access the Article and Video>>

With a presence in Hangzhou since 2012, the Bay Area Council has successfully enabled the expansion of impactful technologies into China’s key markets. Through the Council’s cross-border services, companies from both continents have demonstrated a capacity to succeed in each other’s complex environments. The G20 meeting illustrates a converging set of new interests and opportunities between the Bay Area and China. To engage in the Council’s China and Global Initiatives work, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.


Supporting Free Trade and Growing Manufacturing Not Mutually Exclusive

The Presidential race has brought intense focus on U.S. trade agreements and, specifically, the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership to open markets between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Unfortunately, much of the focus has been negative, with the two major party nominees taking vocal stances against the TPP and highlighting concerns about its possible impact on U.S. manufacturing jobs. While a debate on the merits of TPP is important, it should not exclude a separate discussion about what California and the U.S. can and should be doing to bolster our manufacturing economy.

Free trade agreements alone do not dictate the direction of U.S. manufacturing, and fiery political rhetoric creates an easy distraction from addressing some of the real issues. That point is made clear in a recent report by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute titled Reinventing Manufacturing: How the Transformation of Manufacturing is Creating New Opportunity for California. The report examines the evolving manufacturing sector in California and offers a series of recommendations for strengthening the sector that should be pursued regardless of TPP, which the Bay Area Council strongly supports. The Council recently shared a summary of the report with Senator Dianne Feinstein following a discussion with her about TPP and manufacturing. And we continue our advocacy for growing manufacturing jobs in California and the Bay Area.

Read a one-page summary of Reinventing Manufacturing>>


Council Works to Attract Foreign Investment to CA, Bay Area

The Bay Area Council joined a statewide delegation of leading business and economic development executives that traveled to Washington, D.C. this week (June 19-21) to meet with top foreign investors about opportunities in California and the Bay Area. The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) led the delegation’s participation in the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which President Obama established in 2011 to attract and retain foreign investment in the United States in order to create jobs, spur economic growth, and promote American competitiveness. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in California plays an important role in catalyzing job growth, igniting innovation, increasing productivity and generating additional exports for the state’s economy.  Foreign investment supports over 4.6 percent of private industry employment – over 631,500 jobs in California. Representing the California-China Office of Trade and Investment, Council Senior Vice President of Global Initiatives Bing Wei engaged with foreign and U.S. trade, business and economic development leaders on expanding investment opportunities and is already following up with clean tech companies from Canada, Australia and China. To engage with in the Council’s global trade and investment work, please contact Senior Vice President Bing Wei.


Promoting Medical Devices Opportunities in China

The Bay Area Council recently cohosted a medical device reception at the Westin-Shanghai’s Crown Hall in cooperation with the California Center for International Trade and Development. The event was held as part of the week-long China International Medical Equipment Fair and brought California medical device designers together with government officials to discuss regulatory challenges. Representatives from Nanjing and Shanghai Healthcare and Commercial departments fielded questions about product registration, distributor partnerships, and the priorities of China’s healthcare system under the 13th Five Year Plan. The Bay Area Council’s government partners in both cities further pledged their assistance in connecting California’s medical devices designers to qualified buyers in their municipal districts. The event was the first in the continuing partnership between the Bay Area Council and the California Center for International Trade and Development in China.