A group of more than 130 Chinese representatives from local governments and enterprises recently set off on a group visit to California for the first time in three years. They were welcomed by local government officials, signaling expectations for closer economic and trade ties despite the tension in China-U.S. relations.
The delegation, led by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME) and supported by the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, aims to promote local economic and trade cooperation and exchanges at the provincial and city level between China and the U.S., according to the CCCME on Wednesday.
While China-U.S. relations have sunk to the lowest ebb in decades, with the U.S. ramping up its decoupling and sanctions targeting China, the visit of the delegation mirrors the strong willingness from U.S. state governments to embrace opportunities to strengthen ties with China, experts said.
The representatives are from the regions that are considered the nation's economic and industrial powerhouse including East China's Jiangsu Province and Central China's Hubei Province and Shanghai, highlighting the importance that the government attaches to the exchanges.
The delegation attended the 2023 China-California Business Forum on Monday in which representatives from both sides shared their thoughts on regional cooperation, with good expectations for deepening ties.
The forum originally started in 2016 and took place annually until it was suspended due to the epidemic. This year was its fifth session.
While the current China-U.S. relations are facing severe challenges, economic and trade cooperation is still a solid foundation for the bilateral relations, Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles Guo Shaochun said at the opening of the forum.
In 2022, the trade volume between China and the U.S. reached a record high of about $760 billion, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
China is California's largest trading partner, and California is the state that attracts the most Chinese investment in the U.S., Guo said, noting that the two sides have broad prospects for cooperation in many fields including agriculture, cultural and entertainment industries, logistics and transportation and clean energy.
In a speech delivered by Liu Chun, vice president of the CCCME, she expressed her hope that in the post-epidemic period, the provincial and state economic and trade cooperation authorities of China and the U.S. will make in-depth plans for provincial and state work while jointly seizing the development opportunities of key industries, and highlighting local advantages.
"We welcome the government of California and business representatives to visit China to learn about China's market opportunities and business environment, and to feel China's unswerving determination to expand opening-up and the actions of various provinces and cities for practical cooperation," Liu said.
Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis and other American government representatives delivered keynote speeches at the forum, positively commenting on the close economic and trade relations between California and Los Angeles and China, while hoping to further strengthen the exchanges between the two sides in a wide range of fields such as trade, culture, tourism, clean energy, and zero-carbon development, the Global Times learned.
Such activities show that the economic and trade cooperation between China and the U.S. is in line with the needs and interests of the two countries, so the local business communities support it, He Weiwen, a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
He said that it is important to differentiate between the voices of some politicians in Washington and local government officials and industry representatives.
"China-U.S. relations seem to be formed by the words of these politicians in Washington. This is a one-sided understanding, so we have to look at it comprehensively… those politicians in Washington cannot represent the whole of the U.S., nor its interests," He said, adding that their rhetoric does not show "the full picture of China-U.S. relations."
The Biden administration has escalated the tension in China-U.S. relations with relentless moves including technology sanctions and decoupling in an attempt to curb the development of China, creating uncertainty for many U.S. businesses.
Jensen Huang, chief executive of California-based chipmaker Nvidia, told the Financial Times that there would be "enormous damage to American companies" if they were unable to trade with Beijing.
Despite the difficulties in China-U.S. relations, He said that "we must unswervingly take trade as a good starting point and actively promote the stability of this relationship, while striving for the development of bilateral economic and trade ties."