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Envoy: US, China 'have to live together'

By HENG WEILI in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-28 11:22


The US ambassador in Beijing told an American news program that the two countries have to get along because of how intertwined their economies are.

"Our two countries have to live together. … China is our third-largest trade partner; 750,000 American jobs at stake," Ambassador Nicholas Burns told Lesley Stahl, an anchor of the long-running CBS show 60 Minutes, in a roughly half-hour segment broadcast on Sunday.

"Agriculture — China's the largest market for US agriculture. One fifth of all of our export products from agriculture are sent to China. That was $40.9 billion last year," Burns said.

And while the news show negatively portrayed China's economy, Burns conceded that American companies were staying put in the country.

"A few American companies have left, but most have stayed," he said.

Stahl noted how Disney is expanding its theme park in Shanghai.

She interviewed Xiangwei Gong, the president of Aptar Asia, at one of the company's five manufacturing facilities in China. Burns sat with Gong, an American citizen born in China, during the interview.

Aptar Asia is a subsidiary of Aptar, a maker of consumer-product dispensing and drug-delivery devices, based in Illinois.

"We are manufacturing for some of the largest US brands, actually the US consumer brands," Gong explained.

Stahl asked Gong what makes the company confident about operating in China.

"Because we are here for the long run, and we believe in the consumption power of the rising middle class," she said.

Stahl noted that China has 80 percent of the solar panel market and dominates the wind turbine market.

She interviewed Jörg Wuttke, a German businessman who represents the chemicals giant BASF and has been in China for more than 30 years.

He said China is "fantastic in development" and a "world champion in actually making products better, faster and cheaper".

Stahl, who said that China was poised to overtake Japan as the world's leading exporter of vehicles, also explained how Shenzhen-based BYD recently surpassed Tesla as the manufacturer of the best-selling electric vehicles in the world.

She also interviewed William Li, founder and CEO of Shanghai-based Nio, an EV maker that in December unveiled a battery with a driving range of 620 miles, more than 200 miles better than Tesla's top-end model.

Also featured was Alex Gu, the founder and CEO of Fourier Intelligence, a robotics company that introduced the world's first mass-produced humanoid robot, the GR-1, in August. He said that the robots could eventually provide healthcare assistance for senior citizens.

"Maybe … we can remote-control such kind of robots to help my grandpa," Gu said.

Burns, 68, said that "750,000 American families wouldn't be able to put dinner on the table" if the US decoupled economically from China.

"We have competing interests here, and balancing those interests is the reality in the US-China relationship. We're going to compete; we have to compete responsibly and keep the peace between our countries, but we also have to engage.

"They're the leading trade partner of twice as many countries in the world than the United States," Burns said, which amounts to "over 60 countries".

"I think we're back to a more settled and stable relationship between the two countries, but it's been a rollercoaster," he said.

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