Davos WEF
Davos WEF

Chinese state-owned giant is hoping to expand in the US — with culture

Key Points
  • Poly Group will continue its expansion into the U.S. for the experience and technology, said Xu Niansha, the conglomerate's chairman
  • Poly's key businesses in the U.S. are in culture and real estate

Cultural businesses may not be the most profitable, but China Poly Group will stay the course as the conglomerate expands into that U.S. sector, according to Xu Niansha, chairman of the Chinese enterprise.

The state-owned behemoth made its name as an arms dealer but is now a conglomerate with businesses spanning real estate to art. For one, its Hong Kong-listed culture arm runs one of the world's largest auction houses.

The firm's primary activities in the U.S. are culture and real estate.

Xu said Poly is unfazed by any changes in any country's government as long as foreign investment is welcomed because the company abides by laws of the land. Beyond that, he said, the company hasn't seen any meaningful shifts in attitude from the Trump administration.

"Poly came into the U.S. not only to earn money...Of course we hope that our projects are profitable but not only for this. The American market is a very strong market and a very advanced market. We can learn a lot of experience and technology with our U.S. partners and U.S. companies," Xu told CNBC at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

That's particularly true for cultural businesses, Xu said: "In the two countries, the people need culture, so cultural exchange and communication is very important."

The company has reportedly been "pushing forward cooperation" in U.S. cultural operations like performance and theater management.

Visitors view artwork during the 2012 Poly Spring Auction Exhibition in Beijing, China.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

China's entry into the global arts and culture scene in recent years comes amid the country's meteoric rise from an impoverished nation to the position of the world's second-largest economy in just three decades.

At the 19th Communist Party Congress in October, President Xi Jinping called on the party to enhance the country's cultural soft power.

Experts have pointed to the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, and Confucius Institutes as vehicles of how China is expanding its global influence.