China’s economic expansion into the United States has generated intense debates and controversies. Some view it as posing a critical challenge to extant U.S. institutions; others see China as a stakeholder of the extant system and that the Chinese investors are by and large “playing our game.” However, theories and hypotheses on the subject abounding, little is yet known how exactly Chinese investors interact with U.S. institutions and the legal implications of such interactions. Relying on the first comprehensive survey of Chinese companies investing in the United States, this Article fills the gap with an interdisciplinary study of the adaptation of Chinese investors to the U.S. legal and regulatory systems. Under a novel analytic frame, the study finds evidence that Chinese investors are largely commercially driven and adaptive to the host country environment. The article further evaluates this general finding with a case study, i.e., Chinese companies’ adaptation to U.S. institutions governing employment discrimination, and finds confirming evidence. It then moves on to the discussion of two often-debated threats from China’s business expansion in the United States: the threat to U.S. national security and the threat to free market capitalism. The empirical evidence suggests that Chinese investors are unlikely to pose major threats to extant U.S. institutions in the near future. In light of the findings, policymakers should resist the temptation to hastily erect overly protective measures in response to the sharp rise of Chinese investments. Regulated properly, Chinese investors may become major stakeholders of the U.S. institutions and contribute to their long-term resilience.
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