Infographic

2 Charts That Show How China Is Pulling Out of the United States

Beijing’s annual investments have plummeted from a 2016 peak to an eight-year low in 2018.

Foreign Policy illustration/Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Foreign Policy illustration/Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

As China’s economy has grown, its investments in U.S. industries have risen. This seems like a natural correlation, but something strange happened after 2016: The trend was reversed.

As seen in the chart below, after a high of 177 deals worth $45.6 billion in 2016, Chinese investment into the United States plummeted to just 36 deals worth $2 billion in 2018—the lowest amount in at least eight years.


As China’s economy has grown, its investments in U.S. industries have risen. This seems like a natural correlation, but something strange happened after 2016: The trend was reversed.

As seen in the chart below, after a high of 177 deals worth $45.6 billion in 2016, Chinese investment into the United States plummeted to just 36 deals worth $2 billion in 2018—the lowest amount in at least eight years.



The timing of that decline in investment coincides with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose administration has imposed tariffs on an unprecedented $200 billion in Chinese goods. But that’s only part of the story. According to the Rhodium Group’s China Investment Monitor, Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on outbound capital has caused much of the decline in investment.

Michigan presents a tighter snapshot of the national trend. From 2013 to 2016, China’s investment into the state’s automotive industry increased from $10 million to $920 million. By 2018, all but $11 million of those deals vanished.



As the chart displays, automotive investment also fell between 2010 and 2013, when Detroit suffered the impacts of the 2008 recession, along with General Motors’ and Chrysler’s brushes with bankruptcy. Then-Gov. Rick Snyder spent much of that time actively courting Chinese business. The ready talent pool from the Detroit Three (General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler), combined with cheap office space and a never-ending Chinese demand for cars, eventually proved irresistible.

New Chinese and U.S. policies, however, suggest it will take a lot more than those advantages to bring business back this time.

  Twitter: @seekayhickey

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.