Get the work boots ready Ohio! A Chinese auto glass tycoon has caused a stir by shifting part of his empire to the United States and setting up a factory in Ohio, citing high taxes and soaring labor costs at home. Cao Dewang’s $600-million investment comes after Donald Trump threatened to declare Beijing a currency manipulator and slap 45 percent punitive tariffs on Chinese imports to protect American jobs.
The 70-year-old tycoon’s decision to open a glass factory in the eastern American state of Ohio in October — a rare case of jobs being exported from China to the US — triggered an outpouring of criticism on social media.
The phrase “Cao Dewang has escaped” became a hot topic, generating nearly 10 million views on the Twitter-like Weibo microblog and many comments urging China to “not let Cao Dewang run away”.
Cao’s Fuyao Glass Industry Group — a supplier to big names including Volkswagen and General Motors — claims to be the biggest exporter of auto glass in the world, reporting 2.6 billion yuan ($370 million) profits last year.
Cao defended himself in an interview with the Beijing News Wednesday, saying he “did not run and will not run. The centre of my business is in China because I’m Chinese.” Cao, was quoted as saying the US was a cheaper and better place to make glass because taxes were much lower than in China.
His comments come as some companies are reconsidering their presence in China, and as US president-elect Donald Trump is trying to lure firms back to the US under his “Make America Great Again.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese government is levying higher taxes and increasing social welfare payment obligations on companies, making it harder to run a factory.