Does a 70-year-old billionaire businessman griping about regulations and confiscatory taxation sound familiar? In a real-life bizarro twist, it’s not President-elect Donald Trump, but a Chinese tycoon outsourcing thousands of jobs from his home country to the US.
Cao Dewang is investing $600 million in the US, expecting to fill an old General Motors assembly factory in Moraine, Ohio, with up to 3,000 jobs, according to WDTN. The plant reopened in October, and already nearly 2,000 workers are employed there under Dewang’s Fuyao Glass Industry Group, which supplies Volkswagen and General Motors with auto glass, according to Agence France-Presse.
Fuyao Glass boasts that it is the largest auto glass exporter worldwide, reporting profits of 2.6 billion yuan, or $370 million in US dollars, last year, according to AFP. But Dewang is unhappy with China’s high taxes and labor costs.
“The center of my business is in China, because I’m Chinese,” Dewang reportedly told Beijing News on Wednesday, but the high school dropout turned auto glass salesman turned mogul also said he is “merely reminding the government” that his costs are too high to do as much business there.
Dewang may also avoid some US tariffs, if President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to punish Chinese importers with a 45 percent tariff comes to fruition. Trump made the comments as he condemned China as a currency manipulator.
As has happened in the US, China’s citizens are not in favor of jobs being shipped overseas. An online backlash centered around the message “Cao Dewang has escaped” garnered nearly 10 million views on China’s Twitter-like app Weibo, with many calling on their government to “not let Cao Dewang run away,” AFP reported.
The People’s Daily, China’s Communist Party newspaper, reportedly said that when entrepreneurs raise issues as Dewang has, it is a sign they “still hold confidence in China’s economy.”
Aside from repurposing the GM facility that had been empty since late 2008, Fuyao Glass has invested over $1 billion in the US, according to the South China Morning Post. And according to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese firms invested more than $20 billion in the US last year, as opposed to nearly zero in 2006.