The astonishing retreat of Chinese investment in America

Here's why it's happening and what it means for the U.S. economy

Chinese breakup America
(Image credit: Illustrated | 29mokara/iStock, Devonyu/iStock, UberImages/iStock)

Just a few years ago, Chinese investors and U.S. markets were really hitting it off. Direct Chinese investment into the United States rose to a whopping $46 billion in 2016.

Then the romance ended just as quickly. From 2016 to 2017, the flood of money shrunk by around 50 percent. And while 2018 isn't over yet, the breakup has continued: From the first half of 2017 to the first half of this year, Chinese investment fell over 90 percent. It now sits around $2 billion. David Firestein, the founder of the China Public Policy Center at the University of Texas, called the drop "probably unprecedented" in an interview with The Week.

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