Cisco Announces $16 Billion Investment in China

Cisco Systems Chairman and CEO John Chambers announced on Thursday US$16 billion in new investments in China, including manufacturing, investment and educational programs.

That includes a US$17.5 million investment in Alibaba.com Group as part of its initial public offering in Hong Kong next week, along with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with that company to develop technology for small and medium-sized businesses in China and elsewhere.

Cisco will double its manufacturing in China, Chambers said, a move worth approximately $14 billion, based on the $7 billion Cisco said it purchased from China over the past five years. The company has great influence over where its suppliers manufacture, and many would be directed to do so in China, Chambers said.

The company will inject $350 million into start-up investments and provide up to $400 million in customer financing via Cisco Systems Capital China, Cisco said.

It will also open another 300 of its Networking Academies to train 100,000 students on networking technology, as part of an MOU with the Ministry of Education, under which it will also donate $6 million in networking equipment.

Missing from Chambers' speech was any expansion of Cisco's aggressive acquisition strategy to China. "We don't acquire competitors," he said, seeming to rule out a move for China-based rival Huawei Technologies. "We acquire to move into new areas." That strategy included the US$3.2 billion purchase of WebEx in March.

Chambers is on a whistle-stop tour of Asia, visiting India earlier this week, where he announced that 20 percent of top Cisco executives would be based in that country, along with signing a services agreement with Wipro Ltd.

"Both India and China have [growth, innovation and talent] in front of them. I don't think it's win-lose. I think both India and China win and in a big way," Chambers said in response to a question about the importance of each country to Cisco.

"We don't provide any unique capabilities to any government," Chambers said, answering an allegation that Cisco equipment is used by Chinese telecom regulators to block access from China to various international Web sites, including Wikipedia. "We will not enable any organization uniquely, including our own U.S. government," he said, also revealing that while he is a registered Republican and supporter of Senator John McCain's presidential candidacy. "One thing a technology company should never do is fall in love with one political party or one form of government."

"Cisco is one of Alibaba Group's most important partners, and our relationship with Cisco as it relates to our numerous small and medium-sized customers is extremely important," said Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, who also attended the event.

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