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Mr. Yam said the U.S. should welcome China’s interest in American businesses.

“The U.S. economy is not doing particularly well,” he said. “So we want to have foreign direct investment — it doesn’t matter whether it comes from China or anywhere else.

“But if you look at it, the European economy is in the tank, so you won’t find a lot of European money coming here,” he added. “If the European money isn’t coming in, then the logical source would be from China.”

Not too long ago, U.S. regulators displayed a much higher skepticism over Chinese acquisitions. As recently as last year, Ralls Corp., a Chinese-owned company, was blocked from running a wind turbine energy farm in Oregon, because it was located too close to a U.S. naval base. The company is appealing the Obama administration’s decision in court.

Perhaps the best-known clash came in 2005, when China National Offshore Oil Corp., or CNOOC, lost its $18.5 billion bid to buy American oil company Unocal Corp. Unocal shareholders, instead, accepted a lower $17.1 billion offer from American-owned ChevronTexaco, now Chevron Corp.

This upset Chinese investors, who felt they should have won the bid because they offered more money.

“Some of the shareholders might have been concerned that if they voted for CNOOC, the government never would have approved the deal and they wouldn’t have gotten any money,” Mr. Reinsch explained.

But Chinese investors are enjoying more success as of late.

In 2012, China’s Dalian Wanda Group Corp. bought movie chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., for $2.6 billion, giving it a big foothold in Hollywood.

China’s Wanxiang Group bought electric battery maker A123 Systems Inc., out of bankruptcy for more than $250 million.

These and other sales to Chinese companies may give the impression that U.S. regulators are taking a step back when it comes to Chinese investment.

But Derek Scissors, Asia economist at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, suggested that U.S. regulators haven’t changed their approach as much as it might appear.

“There are just more and more Chinese bids coming for American firms, as to be expected,” he said.

That’s because “they have more money to spend,” Mr. Reinsch added. So as Chinese companies make more bids for U.S. companies, more will be approved.

China is also getting “smarter” about which U.S. companies it tries to buy, said the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce’s Mr. Yam. Rather than bidding for big oil companies or defense contractors, Chinese companies are going after companies in less sensitive market sectors that they are more likely to receive approval to buy — such as pork producers.

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