America China Society of Indiana
Indiana-China Business Facilitator
The Indiana-based non-profit lays a foundation for economic and cultural ties between Asia and the Hoosier State.
The Hoosier State has long held cultural ties to Asia, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that Indiana began actively pursuing economic opportunities across the continent.
In 1987, Indiana Governor Robert Orr led several delegations to strengthen and cultivate relationships with Japanese leaders. He helped launch the Japan-America Society of Indiana (JASI), and those efforts eventually blossomed into a wave of Japanese investment during the 1990s and 2000s.
Inspired by this success, many Hoosiers saw China’s fast-growing economy as a prime investment opportunity for Indiana. In 2010, business leaders Albert Chen and Ryan Hou spearheaded the development of the America China Society of Indiana (ACSI)—a non-profit chamber of commerce to promote business between Indiana and China.
ACSI helps Hoosier companies build stronger trade relationships with China while promoting a “soft-landing zone” to support Chinese investment in Indiana. This serves as a catalyst for economic development, cultivating mutually beneficial partnerships between the two regions.
“We saw the success of the Japan-America Society of Indiana and how it created strong economic ties between Japan and Indiana, and [we] saw that China was the next big market for cooperation,” said Ryan Hou, co-founder of ACSI. “We created ACSI to be that one-stop shop for both Hoosier and Chinese companies to build relationships with one another and find win-win solutions for both regions.”
The American China Society of Indiana officially opened its doors in 2011 with a kick-off event from Governor Mitch Daniels. A business development trip to China and several other key visits from Chinese government leaders followed the event. In just two years, ACSI became a fully independent organization with its own unique conferences, programs and seminars designed to help Hoosier companies do better business with China.
ACSI has also become a reliable partner for The International Center—with several successful joint events over the years. In fact, the two organizations signed a “memorandum of understanding” in 2016, forming an official partnership to develop new programs and services supporting the Indiana-China relationship.
Since then, they have collaborated on briefing materials for officials, welcomed inbound delegations from China and held seminars to teach others about Chinese culture, protocol and etiquette.
“We have greatly appreciated our partnership with The International Center,” said Xishun Zhang, the Vice Chair of ACSI. “For the better part of a decade, ACSI and The International Center have worked side-by-side to help Hoosiers learn more about Chinese business and culture.”
Thanks to ACSI’s efforts, China has become Indiana’s third-largest export market, increasing the state’s annual exports to China by 119% since 2011 (U.S.-China Business Council). Even during the height of the 2018 trade war, ACSI kept open lines of communication with China-based partners and businesses. They helped inform Hoosiers of the latest trade policies and data while navigating new tariffs imposed on various imports.
ACSI also facilitated the donation of more than 500,000 units of personal protective equipment from China when the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on global supply chains. That PPE was given to the Indiana National Guard and distributed to hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state.
In the coming years, relations between China and the United States will continue to evolve. But ACSI remains the foundation of Chinese investment in Indiana, ensuring that Hoosier businesses maintain a productive and sustainable relationship with their Chinese partners.