Latest News

Chinese investors flock to Bellevue

Mei Young, president of Era Young International, a consulting company for foreign investors, recalls one recent client. Having spent $5 million in cash on a home in Vancouver the young Chinese couple decided that they wanted instead to come to Bellevue. “The boyfriend came for one day to look while the [girlfriend] was still in China. She didn’t have to come over. They were looking for a [luxury] house to buy, without seeing them,” says Young. “I would personally spend weeks looking, but in this case, this is what they want.” Bellevue’s growing role as a global city is evidenced by the speed at which foreign – in particular Chinese – investors are flocking to the Eastside, purchasing real estate, developing commercial plots and expanding their companies. Though Bellevue has been cultivating relations with Asia for some time, the rate of investment is accelerating, says Young. “Business activity started as a cultural exchange, mostly symbolic,” said Young, who has been in contact with China at a government level for the past 10 years. “It was visiting the Seattle-Bellevue area, for a tour, or the scenery. But the real investment activity started the latter part of last year.” Bellevue’s record sale of a downtown site for $31 million to Chinese investors; stories of real estate being snatched for lump sums of cash and a bilingual site launched by the city of Bellevue last year all suggest the changing business climate.

Read More

Bellevue mayor, Bill Gates at economic forum in China

Mayor Conrad Lee was among hundreds of world leaders who attended BoAo Asian Forum (BAF) last week in Hainan, China, an assembly equivalent to the World Economic Forum in Davos. BAF, now in its 13th year was attended by such figures as Bill Gates, Bob Hawke, former Prime Minister of Australia and Admiral Bill Owens. Lee has long encouraged business relations between China and Washington state. “He always tries promoting Bellevue in the world,” said Mei Young, who founded Era Young to facilitate contacts between Chinese businesses and the city. She’s worked extensively with Lee on projects in the country. “I think he saw the economy slowing down a couple of years ago, and saw that [we needed] some financial injection for our region…And given China’s booming economy…wanted to cultivate that relationship.” Lee was born in Kunming, China and raised in Hong Kong, before moving to the U.S. in 1958. As a councilmember he helped initiate a cooperative business agreement between the city of Dalian, China and Bellevue. Two years later he assisted in a similar partnership between the city and Qingdao. He built out those connections with ads on Chinese social media sites. The recent launch of, a bilingual website focused on technology leadership in the region, further strengthens that global community. Young says initial efforts have focused on showcasing the Eastside. She says the two regions have natural connections given Bellevue’s growing technology sector and many examples of start-up entrepreneurism. Though preliminary, efforts seem to be paying off. AdSage, China’s largest search engine marketing firm, now has offices in downtown Bellevue. Young points also to a demand for real estate in the city, with Chinese nationals sometimes paying as much as $9 million to 12 million and competing for properties. “As a regional ecosystem, we want [China], when it thinks about entrepreneurship and start-up businesses to think of Bellevue as a platform,” she says. “…So we can bring capital and business over here.”

Read More

Local office for Chinese city

Take one energetic Chinese businesswoman. Combine with a small office, phone and Web site. Bring to boil. That's the recipe for a new Chinese trade office opening Monday in downtown Seattle. The office, funded by the northern coastal city of Dalian, is the second such presence in the area by a Chinese municipality. Chongqing, Seattle's sister city, has had a representative in Bellevue for years. The Dalian office arrives just after Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Seattle to perform much the same function: promote trade and investment between the two countries. While Chongqing is known for making Lifan motorcycles and Ford pickups, Dalian is known for outsourced software programming and other industries that more closely match Seattle's business mix, said Mei Young, head of the new office. But Young sees her territory as far more broad. "We use Dalian as a window to north China and Shanghai and the tech industry," she said. Several deals already are in the works. A Seattle financial company, for example, is using Seattle-based Bluevees Software, which has offices in Shanghai, to customize software for the Chinese market, Young said. Bluevees was founded by a group of Chinese entrepreneurs who had worked at Microsoft, she said.

Read More