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Man-made obstacles to China-US economic cooperation must be overcome

By Ma Qian | Xinhua | Updated: 2021-04-14 10:41

Tourists visit the China Town of San Francisco, in California, the United States, March 24, 2021. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling)

To break through the British economic blockade back in 1784, the then newly-independent United States had decided to look to the East and send to China a merchant vessel loaded with cotton, animal furs and barrels of pepper.

As a group of US business executives held on Tuesday a video dialogue with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the two sides are facing a similar challenge as the one confronting those pioneering American merchants who travelled to China aboard the "Empress of China" more than two centuries ago: to overcome man-made barriers on bilateral economic exchanges.

Today, with ever deepening globalization, sound and stable economic and trade interactions between the world's top two economies have already become a common expectation for Chinese and Americans as well as an irresistible trend of the times.

Despite the raging pandemic and difficulties in bilateral ties, the two-way trade between China and the United States jumped by 8.8 percent year-on-year in 2020 and surged 81.3 percent in the first two months of 2021.

However, China-US economic cooperation overall is still overshadowed by a flurry of anti-China polices put forward by the previous US administration that tried to decouple the two countries. So far, there is still no sign that the current administration is going to terminate those unilateral protectionist measures.

The US business community has for long played an important part in bolstering America's economic and trade interactions with China. Under the current situation, its unique role remains indispensible.

To begin with, the US business community can help ignite and ratchet up real discussions in Washington on returning common sense back to US policy-making towards China, and push for constructive communication between the two sides.

Members of the American business community have been the participants in as well as the promoters and beneficiaries of China-US economic and trade cooperation over the decades.

Thus they are the most qualified to make two things clear to the decision-makers in Washington: one, that it is impossible as well as a game with no winners if the United States goes ahead and decouples with China; and two, that the China-US economic relationship is win-win in nature, and there is still tremendous opportunity for mutually beneficial cooperation for the two countries to tap.

To do that, the US business community needs to remain sober enough itself so as to reject the political turbulence caused by some China hawks in Washington.

That is how American companies can continue to reap the benefits from the growing opportunities presented by an ever opening-up Chinese market.

The good news is that most of the American enterprises investing in China have not been swayed by Washington's wrong policies towards China.

Greg Gilligan, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China), said recently that 70 percent of the nearly 1,000 US-funded enterprises under AmCham China surveyed have no plans to move out of the Chinese market.

Last but not the least, the US business community can join their Chinese counterparts in exploring more cooperation opportunities in new and flourishing areas.

For example, the two sides can collaborate on the research and development of advanced green technologies to jointly tackle climate change.

Bilateral cooperation in infrastructure also looks promising, given China's colossal infrastructure experience in recent decades both at home and overseas and US President Joe Biden's ambitious infrastructure plan to revitalize the US economy.

More than two centuries ago, with the voyage of the "Empress of China," the business communities of the two countries opened the door to exchanges between the two peoples.

Today, the hardships impeding China-US economic and trade cooperation are certainly greater than the waves of the Pacific Ocean the US merchant ship rode out back in 1789 to reach China's shores.

However, so long as the two sides can join forces, steer themselves in the right direction, and arm themselves with determination, no difficulty will be too hard to overcome.

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