China's opening-up and improved business environment offer new opportunities for US companies following Nixon’s historic visit
Published: Feb 27, 2022 07:17 PM
A visitor experiences simulated airliner driving at Honeywell's booth during the fourth China International Import Expo in 2021. Photo: VCG

A visitor experiences simulated airliner driving at Honeywell's booth during the fourth China International Import Expo in 2021. Photo: VCG

In 1972, the then US President Richard Nixon made a historic visit to China which opened opportunity for US businesses to enter the country. Looking back at the 50 years' of operating in China, many of these business leaders are impressed by the improved opening business environment in China and voiced confidence in new business opportunities in China.

February 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the issuance of the Shanghai Communiqué, which became the political foundation for the normalization of China-US relations and set the bilateral trade ties on a fast track. After 50 years' development, bilateral trade between China and the US has grown to $755.6 billion in 2021 as the two economies have become deeply integrated.

Taking root in China 

During Nixon's China visit, he was invited by the Chinese government to recommend the best enterprises from 10 sectors to drive economic exchanges between the two countries and accelerate China's modernization development. Honeywell UOP was the only company in the field of refining and petrochemical selected and recommended to the Chinese government.

Now, 50 years later China has developed into Honeywell's second largest single market and the company's largest growth market.

China's progress in opening-up and improving its domestic business environment has created new opportunities for Honeywell, and the company's business development in China is accelerating, President of Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific Steven Lien told the Global Times.

"China's opening-up efforts and its focus on sustainability and digitalization create a very favorable investment environment and business opportunities for Honeywell," he said.

Its investment in China has entered the fast track in the new millennium. In 2003, Honeywell moved its Asia-Pacific headquarters to Shanghai and subsequently established the company's largest R&D center in Asia. In 2016, the company invested an additional $100 million to expand its Asia-Pacific headquarters and an R&D center in the city's Pudong New Area to support the company's growth in China.

In 1972, when Nixon visited China, the products of Danaher Corporation, an American globally diversified conglomerate, entered the Chinese market through a government procurement program. 

"We have grown rapidly in China in recent years. The gradual improvement of China's business environment gives us more confidence to stay in China," the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times.

After 50 years' operating in China, Danaher opened its 13th manufacturing facility in China in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province in January. 

"China has been an important part of Danaher global business. It is not only an important sales market, but also a production base, research and development center and innovation center. Taking root in China, Danaher is committed to building a group multinational company driven by local innovation," the company said.

The relationship between automotive batteries manufacture Clarios and China can be traced back to 1979 when it first launched commercial trade in China after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US as the first US enterprise to sell automotive battery manufacturing equipment and technology. Now the company has nearly 4,000 outlets across the country.

Over the years, Clarios has been impressed by the support from local government in terms of improved business environment.

 "One of the characteristics of multinational companies is that international talent needs to move between regions. When the epidemic control was carried out in 2021, the government fully considered the needs of enterprises and actively assisted us to provide a series of preferential measures for entry-exit personnel," Liu Zhihui, director of government relations of the company, said.

Make the cake bigger 

The US and China are the world's two largest economies and important trading partners and sources of two-way investment. After a half century's development, the two economies have become deeply integrated with many US business leaders looking forward to a continued cooperation with China despite changes and challenges emerging in the two countries' economic relations in the past few years

 "As a US enterprise that wants to develop deeply in the Chinese market, we believe that a good relationship between China and the US is very important to the business and trade between the two countries," Liu said.

About 200 US companies attended the fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) in November 2021 in Shanghai, hitting a new high according to the CIIE Bureau.

From 2018 to 2020, the number of US companies attending the CIIE increased from about 180 to 198, their total exhibition area has been one of the largest among all participating countries and regions, said the bureau.

Many iconic industry leaders including Honeywell and Danaher have become regulars at the event, seeking the opportunity to make a bigger cake brought by China's high-quality development as the country deepens reform and opening-up.

During the fourth CIIE in 2021, Honeywell signed cooperation agreements with more than 20 Chinese enterprises in green, low-carbon and digitalization fields, and has signed up to participate in the fifth CIIE.

"Our core business perfectly aligned with the development trends of China's market including digitalization and sustainability," Lien said.

In the field of sustainability, Honeywell is uniquely positioned to shape a sustainable and low carbon future in China together with its local partners. In fact, about half of Honeywell's new product introduction research and development investment is directed toward products that improve environmental and social outcomes for customers.

"Looking ahead, we will continue to leverage our strengths and innovative practices in digitization and sustainability, and work with our industry partners to contribute to high-quality development of the Chinese economy and global economic recovery and growth," Lien said.

This year also marks the fifth consecutive year for Danaher to sign up with CIIE, demonstrating its determination and unwavering commitment to the Chinese market amid the rapid rise of China's medical and biomedical industry.

"Danaher will continue to bring cutting-edge technologies and products to China to support the upgrading and transformation of the domestic medical diagnosis, life sciences, water quality management and product labeling industries. At the same time, we are more determined to cultivate local talents in China, and bring innovative products and leading technologies developed and produced in China to the international market," the company said.