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“Could Detroit Become America’s First Chinese City?”

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Could Detroit Become America’s First Chinese City?

According to Western Journalism, “The governor of Michigan, Republican Rick Snyder, has already made a formal request to Obama’s Homeland Security for 50,000 special immigration visas to accommodate the expected wave of Chinese settlers”. Like many American foundations, wealthy Chinese businessmen are slowly buying Detroit’s real estate properties. They view this “as a rare opportunity to become a part of the American economy”. The value of real estate in big three Chinese cities skyrocketed in the past ten years. Given the currently low price of real estate properties, these investors may believe that the real estate market of Detroit will come back one day, so it is a good investment to purchase some houses now.

However, whether this is a good investment or not is still questionable. First of all, Detroit’s geographic location is not attractive comparing to cities like San Francisco, Seatle, or Los Angeles. These three cities have attracted large waves of Chinese immigrants. Secondly, Detroit gangs have severely threatened public safety. Places like 8 miles are some of the most dangerous places in the world. Thirdly, there are currently more than 80000 abandoned buildings in the city of Detroit. Many of those buildings are in extremely poor conditions. During our visit to Detroit, we saw many abandoned houses were on the edge of collapsing.

Michigan’s governor’s plan is to recover Detroit by attracting Chinese immigrants. These immigrants can add more labor force into Detroit’s market. However, additional labor force will not help Detroit. As firms and people have been leaving out of Detroit, Detroit’s unemployment rate rises to 17.7%. Additional labor force will only drive up unemployment, causing tensions between locals and immigrants. Unless more job opportunities come to Detroit, additional labor force cannot benefit Detroit.



  1. Zachary Durkin
    Zachary Durkin

    From what I gathered from our time in Detroit, firms were beginning to move in due to the low cost associated with business in Detroit. Crime can be easily dealt with. More people moving into the city means more tax revenue, which means a better police force. Eventually the education system will turn around, and as we know better educational opportunities mean less crime. I think Chinese investors are very smart in buying up Detroit. As someone on the trip told me, Detroit can’t get any worse, so you might as well buy in now. Whether this means the Chinese demographic in Detroit will skyrocket soon is up for debate, but we know that Detroit is due for revitalization.

    May 18, 2014
  2. reed

    I don’t really see the jobs materializing. There would need to be a grassroots new industry popping up in the city to support thousands of new jobs. I agree that Detroit police could insulate certain neighborhoods from crime, which would be palatable, but why would someone choose Detroit over chicago, or Denver, or even cleveland? There is no good sell for the city right now.

    May 19, 2014
  3. Michael Barry
    Michael Barry

    I can’t imagine people leaving China for Detroit for any other reason than an existing, open job. The idea of moving to an underpopulated city to help crowding problems in China might seem appealing or exciting, but is not realistic.

    May 22, 2014

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