US firms urge engagement with China ahead of ministers' meeting
Published: May 26, 2023 12:05 AM
China US File Photo:CFP

China US File Photo:CFP

US firms and business groups with operations in China are clamoring for engagement and cooperation with China amid ongoing bilateral tension, as Chinese and US ministers in charge of trade and economic issues are scheduled to meet in the US on the sidelines of an APEC meeting.

The calls for more engagement and cooperation with China while coping with friction in competition underline the complementary nature of China-US trade and economic cooperation. This cooperation is vital for the US in its current precarious position, said Chinese experts closely following China-US affairs. 

They said that some agreement could come out on top of the recent resumption of high-level engagements between Beijing and Washington.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao will hold talks with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai while attending the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in the US from Thursday to Friday, a ministry spokesperson announced on Thursday.

Tai on Wednesday said that she is hoping to see Wang, the South China Morning Post reported.

At a summit organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) on Wednesday evening, Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council (USCBC), said that the USCBC looks forward to promoting the healthy development of US-China commercial relations through constructive dialogue and engagement over the next 50 years, according to a translation readout sent by CCPIT. 

Allen said we should work to ensure that the two countries pursue a path that does not allow the competitive concerns [between the two countries] to outweigh the benefits of cooperation, according to the readout. 

The remarks came after China's new Ambassador to the US Xie Feng arrived in the US on Tuesday. At the airport, the Chinese envoy told reporters that "whether China and the US can manage the relationship properly is consequential to the future of our two countries and our planet."

Speaking at a regular press conference on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the China-US relationship is vitally important to both countries and the world, and China views and grows its relations with the US in accordance with the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation put forward by President Xi Jinping.

"We hope the US will work with China to enhance dialogue, manage differences and boost cooperation, and bring China-US relations back to the right track of sound and steady growth," Mao said.

Recent improvements were made in other aspects, with more than 130 Chinese representatives from local governments and enterprises recently setting off on a group visit to California - for the first time in three years.

Liu Ying, a research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Thursday that China-US trade has remained at historically high levels, despite the tariff war launched by the US against China and groundless US crackdowns on Chinese companies.

This situation showed that the US government's effort to distort the complementary nature of the two economies was wrong, unrealistic and has failed, Liu said.

In 2022, US-China bilateral goods trade reached a record $691 billion, with US exports of goods to China hitting a record high of $153.8 billion, benefiting businesses and consumers of both countries.

Song Guoyou, deputy director of the Center for American Studies, Fudan University told the Global Times on Thursday that the US business community, which has come under fire in recent years and sustained losses in terms of revenue amid the hostile US actions toward China, wants to grasp the opportunity of a recent improvement of bilateral ties to let its voice be heard.

"Such voices counter the widespread noise against China amid the toxic US political environment," Song said.

More American CEOs are visiting China while some expressed distinct differences with the Biden administration's policies.

On Wednesday, General Motors chairwoman Mary Barra visited Shanghai, and the city has invited the company to boost investment and research and development.

Jensen Huang, chief executive of Nvidia, warned that chip wars with China risk enormous damage to the US technology sector as the company is unable to sell advanced chips in one of its biggest markets, according to the Financial Times on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, Nike CEO John Donahoe said that breaking up with China would be "disastrous" amid rising geopolitical tensions, according to a CNBC report.

Liu said that the US is currently facing an ongoing, multipronged crisis including banking woes, high inflation, a wobbling economy and a debt ceiling debacle and "stable China-US trade and economic ties are what the US needs most at this precarious moment."

On account of "meaningful" changes in bilateral ties of late, Song said that some agreement can be expected to come out of the ministers' meetings, though it is too soon to predict any specifics as this would be determined by negotiations. Aspects where both sides have "common interests" are more likely to bear results, Song said.

Liu said the ministers could discuss how the US will roll back its tariffs on Chinese goods and rein in its crackdown on Chinese companies. 

Cancelling tariffs alone could save each American household some $1,000 a year, effectively helping the US to cope with its inflation crisis, Liu noted.