The buildup of positive momentum in U.S.-China business exchanges under the auspices of bilateral leadership makes insiders and observers more optimistic on the outlook of bilateral relations.
Not only did the number of U.S. exhibitors reach a new high at the sixth China International Import Expo in early November, but the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC), a voice of American companies doing business in China, also vowed Thursday to strive for collaboration between the two countries and build for the next 50 years.
Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden sent congratulatory messages to the USCBC marking its 50th anniversary.
The move is seen as a follow-up on the important consensus reached during their recent meeting in San Francisco.
“The congratulatory letters from presidents Biden and Xi to the USCBC on its 50th anniversary underscore both leaders’ alignment, building on the positive momentum achieved at the APEC summit,” said Jonathan Krane, founder and chief executive officer of KraneShares, a U.S.-based asset management firm.
The letters are a strong signal, indicating continued follow-through from the recent summit, said Krane, who participated in a function featuring Xi’s address to U.S. business people during the APEC meeting in 2023.
After the tumult of the last three to four years, both the United States and China realize that they must find a better and more constructive pathway into the future, said Denis Simon, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies.
Xi’s letter to the USCBC anniversary celebration must be seen as a positive step in the direction of further defusing tensions and re-building some of the bridges that have proven most beneficial as bilateral relations have evolved in over 30 years, said Simon, who also serves as a professor of Global Business and Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the executive director of the Center for Innovation Policy at the Law School at Duke University.
It is clear that China wants to see continued U.S. business participation in the Chinese economy, said Simon.
“The Chinese market promises to remain important for the foreseeable future. The USCBC event is a good reminder to both countries that business ties should remain center stage in the bilateral relationship,” added Simon.
“History teaches us that economics underpins global geopolitical stability, and that attempts to undermine economic interdependence can lead to greater global geopolitical instability,” warned Craig Allen, president of the USCBC.
It is particularly encouraging that Xi stressed the importance of China-U.S. business cooperation, said Lan Jin, president of the Oregon China Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Oregonians’ interests through people-to-people exchanges and positive economic relations with China.
It is also heartening to enterprises in Oregon and promoters of local economic cooperation, said Lan, who has been committed to developing friendly ties between Oregon and China in the last four decades and recently joined a group of local delegates to visit China.
“We anticipate more opportunities to promote economic exchanges between Oregon and China,” said Lan.
President Xi delivered very positive messages by welcoming U.S. companies to continue to invest in China, which removed some U.S. business people’s misunderstanding on China’s policy of reform and opening-up, said Zhu Zhiqun, professor of International Relations and Political Science at Bucknell University.
China’s high-quality opening-up and fast growth of green economy offer new opportunities to foreign business people, according to Zhu.
The two countries also need to strengthen bilateral people-to-people, educational, cultural and subnational collaborations and exchanges that have receded in recent years, said Tom Watkins, former advisor to the Michigan-China Innovation Center.
These connections are the foundation of understanding and mutual respect that fuel the most important bilateral relationship in the world today, Watkins said.
When the United States and China are talking and engaging with one another, it builds confidence among other countries that there is a positive future ahead, said Simon.
“Most other countries want to work with both the United States and China, and any initiative that seeks to decouple engagement with both countries is doomed to fail for multiple reasons. Surely, the United States and China are competitors in many areas, but in the final analysis, they share many common interests and potential synergies,” Simon said.