When Lenovo moved its world headquarters from Beijing to New York last year after a US$1.75 billion acquisition of IBM's personal systems group, it was hoped that the mainland computer giant would kick-start something of a Chinese revolution in Manhattan. City leaders had hoped the move would be a shot in the arm for New York, which has been looking to diversify its business base under the corporate-style leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Indeed, thanks to the lifting of trade barriers and Beijing's decision to allow its firms to broaden their horizons overseas, speculation was rife that the floodgates had been opened for more mainland businesses coming into the city. Yet, recent reports suggest the wave of optimism set off by Lenovo's move has ebbed. Key to this is an increase in anti-Chinese sentiment over CNOOC's failed US$18.5 billion bid last year for oil giant Unocal, and the ever-expanding US trade deficit with China. Complicating matters further last week was the US State Department's purchase of more than 15,000 Lenovo computers in a deal worth more than US$13 million. Although the computers were intended for unclassified systems, the decision has outraged liberal and conservative critics who claim that the deal might enable China to spy on US intelligence interests. Amid all this, New York has spent the past few months trying to set itself apart from the capital, Washington DC. 'I think you have to distinguish between New York and Washington and the rest of the country,' says Kathryn Wilde, chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, a group representing the city's international business community. 'The sentiments expressed out of Washington are often reactive to political concerns, whereas New York embraces the global economy. We don't see globalisation as a threat; we see it as an opportunity.' So far, New York officials have scored a major deal with Beijing-based real-estate giant Vantone's decision to lease the top five floors of the new 7 World Trade Centre. The announcement came after months of intense lobbying from the likes of New York Governor George Pataki. 'It is an important piece in the jigsaw, one of many things that we hope will happen,' said Laure Aubuchon, senior vice-president of international business development at the New York City Economic Development Corp. 'To take the top five floors in a signature building for Lower Manhattan was a tremendous vote of confidence. They had lots of options in terms of choosing where to set up, but they chose to set up in New York.' Another project is being touted in Queens to attract Chinese firms. Developer Michael Myer is in contention to develop Willet's Point into a multi-purpose commercial space that could be used as showrooms by Chinese firms looking to reach US buyers. He has reportedly been shuttling to and from Shanghai to attract tenants. 'The city is certainly putting resources behind this effort,' said Ms Aubuchon, before a trip to the mainland with her Hong Kong-born colleague, Ho Yuet-fung, to drum up business. 'A lot of Chinese companies look to New York as a place that, if they're successful, speaks of them and their abilities.' There is also a sense now that the city is focusing on attracting smaller Chinese businesses. 'Chinese companies will come slowly. They will, of course, play to their strengths, to follow the low-cost model whereby they're the wholesale supplier to other firms,' says Calvin Chin, who handles mainland transactions as director of marketing in investment banking at Burnham Securities.