CHINA / DIPLOMACY
China-US trade ties ‘could recover first’ with Washington’s sincerity following Chinese envoy’s virtual meeting with US-China business group head
Published: Aug 14, 2021 09:41 PM
Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang (R) speaks to Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, August 13, 2021.

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang (R) speaks to Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, August 13, 2021.


The US government is receiving increasing pressure from US business circles and its society to fix trade ties with China with the new Chinese ambassador to the US on Friday expressing that China will continue opening up to the world. Chinese analysts said on Saturday that this is a signal that China-US trade ties could recover first amid ongoing tension. However, it requires the US to fix its mistakes first, such as canceling all unfair tariffs on Chinese goods. 

On Friday, Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang had a virtual meeting with Craig Allen, President of the US-China Business Council (USCBC), according to the website of the Chinese Embassy in the US.

Qin spoke highly of the contribution made by the USCBC in fostering China-US relations over the years, and stressed that trade cooperation between the two countries is mutually beneficial and win-win in nature. China will open its door even wider to the world. It is hoped that the Chinese and American business communities will continue to enhance communication and cooperation, so as to inject positive energy into China-US relations.

On behalf of the USCBC and its member companies, Allen extended his welcome to Ambassador Qin for assuming office and said that a stable US-China relationship is essential to the business communities of the two countries. The USCBC is ready to work toward this goal and further promote friendly exchanges and win-win cooperation between the US and China.

Against the backdrop of the strained bilateral relationship, holding talks with US business representatives is a necessary and valid step, He Weiwen, a former senior trade official and an executive council member of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

The US business community has been actively supporting the expansion of China-US economic, trade and investment cooperation. The USCBC is one of the leading organizations promoting bilateral economic exchanges over the decades, He said. 

Lü Xiang, an expert on US politics and a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Saturday that the USCBC is representing the interests of the business circle who are deeply affected by China-US trade war which was unilaterally launched by the former Trump administration, so they desperately hope the Biden administration will fix the mistakes.

Founded in 1973, the USCBC represents over 200 American companies that do business with China. Most of them are large multinationals, such as Apple Inc, Ford Motor, IBM and Honeywell. "Speaking for the American multinationals, the USCBC has a great influence over China-US economic and trade relations," He said. 

In the meantime, experts stressed that the White House, holding a political intention to maintain its hegemony around the world, may not be able to redress its current confrontational approach toward China in the short term.

 However, instead of several politicians from Washington, it is the objective laws of economic development that determine the direction of China-US economic relations, He said, stressing that the two nations, in essential terms, enjoy strong industrial complementarities, which are the objective economic rules that Washington cannot alter.

China US Photo:GT

China US Photo:GT


US should show sincerity

To prevent the bilateral relations from worsening further caused by US provocations and containment policy against China, Chinese officials and diplomats have made all-out efforts, hoping to bring the ties back on the right track. Trade is a key area where both sides are likely to see progress or even breakthrough if the US is sincere, analysts said.     

The new Chinese ambassador's tweet is about his virtual meeting with Allen. "Glad to meet with @USChinaBusiness President Craig Allen and talk about the prospects of China-US trade. Both of us wish to see robust trade and investment between China and the US benefiting our peoples," Qin tweeted.  

Since Qin announced his arrival in the US two weeks ago, he has repeated the Chinese side's genuine attitude of promoting cooperation. He tweeted last week that China and the US have great potential for cooperation in the new energy vehicle sector, as well as in the common fight against the rampant spread of the Delta variant. 

He sent congratulations to both US and Chinese athletic teams for their great achievements at the Tokyo Olympics and posted online a picture of him standing in front of the Jin Jiang Hotel Auditorium, where the Sino-US Joint Communique (Shanghai Communique) was issued during US President Nixon's visit to China in 1972, saying "let's get going again!" On his first day after finishing self-quarantine, Qin met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, stressing to "enhance communication and dialogue with the US side, and work to promote a rational, stable, manageable and constructive China-US relationship."

Since the Biden administration took office in January, though senior officials from both sides have conducted several rounds of talks, including in Tianjin between Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, it has so far not been able to stop the Biden administration from keeping in place the toxic trade policies implemented by the previous Trump administration.

It is now quite clear that the US did not win the trade war. Reports have shown repeatedly that it is American consumers and firms bearing the losses and there have been hundreds of thousands of job opportunities lost in the US due to the economic conflict. 

"Unfortunately, US President Joe Biden has used unprofessional politicians like National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to take charge of trade affairs from the aspect of 'national security,' so American business circles haven't seen the new administration fix the mistakes so far, and normal US citizens are also suffering from the worsening economic situation since Biden has yet to correct the mistakes. This is why his approval rating keeps dropping," Lü said.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently admitted that tariffs on China are hurting American consumers. More than 30 business groups last week made an appeal to the White House, calling for the removal of tariffs on Chinese goods.

In a report on Thursday, Bloomberg cited sources as saying that the US Treasury's discussions about a visit to Beijing remain "in the early stages". If the visit takes place, Yellen is likely to meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, and she would be the highest-ranking Biden appointee to visit China.

Chinese experts said the biggest obstacle for the US to fix trade ties with China is senior officials like Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan as they believe in a wrong strategy to confront China, which makes the US spend huge amounts of unnecessary resources, leaving the US economy in trouble.

"Trade is a highly professional area which requires professional officials to handle it, like Yellen," so if the US lets her do her job, China-US trade ties could at least recover from the ongoing tension, but if Yellen's visit fails, then the White House and the US State Department are the ones that should be blamed, Lü said.

There may not be a significant improvement in overall China-US relations in the short term, but partial improvements can still be expected, including long-standing active business exchanges as well as cooperation conducted between local governments, He noted.

The US is still politicizing the tracing of the COVID-19 virus origins, and is still trying to push the Indo-Pacific strategy to contain China, "but if both sides decide to fix trade ties, the tensions in other fields will also be eased a little bit, so China will welcome the trend of fixing trade ties," Lü noted, adding that the US needs to correct its mistakes first. Canceling unfair and unreasonable tariffs would be a key indicator in showing Washington's sincerity.

There are still many problems that the US needs to solve in order to recover trade ties with China. In early June, Biden signed an executive order to expand restrictions on US investments in 59 Chinese companies, which have been leveled without any evidence from the US of having ties to the Chinese military. The US has also piled pressure on Xinjiang-related trade issues by putting several Xinjiang solar panel producers on an Entity List over fabricated "forced labor" allegations.

All of these are likely to be the hot topics that the two sides need to deal with in future negotiations. China hopes the US will be constructive and pragmatic, rather than remaining arrogant to speak from a position of strength, said Chinese experts.


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