Huawei is a major player in the global telecommunications industry. Image: Flickr user Choo Yut Shing.

New Investment Adds to Growing Chinese High Tech Presence in Seattle Area


Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications equipment and services company, will open a new office in Bellevue, located a few miles east of Seattle. Huawei stated that its new office will hire 100 workers by 2017. As one of the world’s top smartphone makers, Huawei aims to grow its market share to surpass Apple in the next few years and then pass Samsung by 2021 by expanding its reach in the North American market. Huawei is also involved in about 100 research projects with more than 50 US universities.

In recent years, the Seattle metropolitan area, including Bellevue, has become a hot spot for Chinese telecommunications companies such as China Unicom, ZTE, and iSoftStone, investing in an area well-known for American firms like Microsoft and T-Mobile. Connections between the area and China are strong, particularly in terms of trade. In 2014, China was the largest export destination for goods coming from the Seattle metropolitan area, worth $12.8 billion. Computer and electronic products accounted for the largest export sector, valued at $3.3 billion in 2014. China was also one of the top electrical equipment export markets for Washington State, increasing 65% from 2011 to 2015.

In September 2015, the 8th US-China Internet Industry Forum was held in Seattle, bringing together Chinese and American tech leaders, including CEOs from Facebook, Apple, Alibaba, and Baidu. Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the meeting, addressing the necessity of cooperation on cybersecurity between the two countries. Around the time of President Xi’s visit to Seattle, more Chinese developments and investments began arriving in the area. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank by total assets, opened its first Pacific Northwest office in Seattle, having previously established its first US branch in New York City in 2008. Additionally, the University of Washington in Seattle and Tsinghua University in Beijing established a partnership to work on developing clean energy technology, as well as collaborating on a Bellevue-based graduate institution called the Global Innovation Exchange.

Zhengqi Wang is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and is a student at American University.