China stresses value of U.S. business ties

2021-09-15 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang has offered some comfort to U.S. businesspeople worried by the uncertainties caused by tense China-U.S. relations: You can have certainty from China's dynamic economy and opening-up. Making it clear that the difficulties don't stem from the Chinese side, Qin told a gathering that the U.S. should avoid making things worse.

At a virtual reception hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council, or USCBC, on Tuesday, Qin said China will continue to welcome U.S. companies to explore the Chinese market, and he hoped the U.S. side will meet China halfway.

The USCBC, in its 2021 member survey conducted in June among 107 U.S. firms operating in China — almost half its members, found that though 95 percent of the polled companies were profitable last year. The respondents said strained U.S.-China relations have had a detrimental impact on them.

Bilateral tensions and subsequent policy changes are influencing Chinese perceptions about the reliability of U.S. companies, as evidenced by the most commonly reported impact of the trade tensions: lost sales due to customer uncertainty of continued supply, according to the survey.

Qin, citing the business council's poll, said uncertainties caused by the difficulties and challenges facing China-U.S. relations have been most worrisome to the U.S. business community. "On concerns about the uncertainties in China-U.S. relations, what I can offer is the certainty from the Chinese side," the envoy said. "China's economy is promising, its market potential is huge, and its door of opening-up will only open wider.

"To be frank, the difficulties and uncertainties in China-U.S. trade and business cooperation are not from the Chinese side. I hope that the U.S. side will meet with China halfway, follow the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and make earnest efforts to improve China-U.S. relations."

The ambassador provided an update on the phase one trade deal the two countries signed in January last year.

He said China has been "faithfully" implementing the agreement despite the pandemic, and has made progress in ramping up intellectual property right protections and expanding market access for agricultural products and the financial sector.

However, despite China having eliminated market-based tariffs on imports from the U.S. to facilitate trade, the U.S. has continued to impose sanctions and restrictions on China since the trade agreement came into force. That includes putting more than 900 Chinese entities on various lists of restrictions.

"This has directly affected Chinese companies' ability and willingness to purchase from the U.S. and has had a negative impact on the implementation of the agreement," he said.

The officials of U.S. President Joe Biden's administration are considering launching an investigation into Chinese subsidies under Section 301 of the U.S. trade law, which could lead to new tariffs. No final decision has been made, according to U.S. media reports, which cited people familiar with their plans.

Commenting on the reports, Qin said neither Section 301 investigations nor tariff war has worked.

"The U.S. business community must be aware of this from firsthand experience," he said. "It is hoped that necessary conditions and atmosphere can be created for the implementation of the phase one agreement and bilateral economic and trade exchanges, rather than making things worse."

The virtual meeting, featuring the chief executives of some of the largest U.S. corporations, took place days after Biden spoke by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the call, Xi said the China-U.S. relationship "is not a multiple-answer question of whether we should have good relations, but a compulsory question of how".

USCBC president Craig Allen said: "The ambassador's message to the CEOs was that the commercial relationship must thrive and grow while we work harder to resolve disagreements."

The CEOs underscored that U.S. trade and investment with China have brought benefits to both sides and that it is critical for the countries to continue working together to support mutual interests, the council said in a statement.

The council extended a welcome to Ambassador Qin upon his taking office, and expressed a commitment to China-U.S. exchanges and bilateral economic cooperation, according to a statement from the Chinese embassy.


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