South Sound roots were on display in Beijing as the China-based affiliate of Seattle’s Columbia Pacific celebrated a grand opening of a 60,000-sq.-ft. senior living facility. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, formerly Washington governor, was on hand with numerous Chinese dignitaries.

Columbia Pacific’s chairman, Daniel R. Baty, was one of the founders and is current chairman of the board of Emeritus Corp., a national leader in the U.S. assisted living industry. Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, he was associated with Hillhaven, an early entry to this line of business based in Tacoma.

The new facility, Senior Living L’Amore — Kaijian, is the first project constructed under a strategic partnership between Cascade Healthcare, a China-based affiliate of Columbia Pacific, and Sino-Ocean Land to build and jointly manage senior care facilities in China. The partnership includes a pipeline of upcoming senior care projects in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities.

The number of Chinese citizens over 60 years old is expected to more than double in coming decades, creating a pressing social issue that the Chinese government acknowledges will need the help of foreign companies to address.

In 2011, the Chinese government relaxed restrictions and began encouraging foreign companies to build senior care facilities. Cascade Healthcare was the first foreign-owned company to receive permission to build.

Cascade Healthcare and Sino-Ocean Land each put up 50 percent of the registered capital of the new facility and will jointly oversee project operations.