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Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang Holds a Video Symposium with the Business Community of the United States (US)

2020/07/17

On July 15, 2020, Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang held a video symposium with heads and members of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China) on China-United States (US) relations and economic and trade issues. Guests attending the symposium included leading officials from the General Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, and Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China Greg Gilligan and AmCham China President Alan Beebe, as well as representatives from Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company, General Electric Company, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Honeywell International Inc., and Visa Inc.

In his speech, Zheng Zeguang pointed out, the China-US relations are now at a crossroads, facing a grim and complex situation that has rarely been seen since the establishment of diplomatic relations. For a period of time, the US side intervened in China's internal affairs and harmed China's interests on a series of issues, causing severe damage to the China-US relations. Out of ideology and prejudice, some in the US spare no effort in smearing and attacking China and unscrupulously obstructing China-US contact and cooperation by going against facts and misleading the American people, which poses challenges to the common interests of the two peoples. In this regard, the Chinese side has publicly stated its principled position on many occasions, and has made and will continue to make necessary responses to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.

Zheng Zeguang stressed, the experience of China-US relations we have learnt from the past is that China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation; and the right way of co-existence between China and the US is mutual respect and seeking common ground while putting aside differences. With a civilization of more than 5,000 years and going through numerous ups and downs, China today has become more determined and resilient than ever before to cope with various risks and challenges to steadily achieve its goals. In the face of the complex and grave situation in China-US relations, we have acted in the fundamental interests of the people of our two countries and the people of the world and, in good faith and sincerity, strived to promote the development of China-US relations featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. However, the US side repays virtue with grievances and repeatedly challenges China's core interests. Any bullying and injustice imposed by the US side on the Chinese side will be resolutely countered, and the US attempts to obstruct China's growth is doomed to fail. At the China-US Think Tanks Media Forum held recently, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi clearly stated China's principled position on the current China-US relations, and put forward three suggestions, namely activate and open all the channels of dialogue; review and agree on the lists of interactions; and focus and cooperate on COVID-19 response. The US side should take these suggestions into serious consideration, correct mistakes, stop any negative words and deeds, and work with the Chinese side to bring bilateral relations back to the right track of coordination, cooperation and stability.

Zheng Zeguang noted, the sudden onslaught of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on China and the rest of the world. China has taken the most comprehensive, stringent and thorough prevention and control measures, and achieved major strategic results. This reflects the arduous efforts of the Chinese people and the vision and extraordinary leadership of the Chinese leaders. The Chinese side has always been open and transparent in its epidemic prevention and control, shared information with the international community in a timely manner, provided assistance and support to other countries to the best of its ability, and actively carried out international cooperation against the epidemic. The Chinese side thanks the AmCham China and its member companies for all their donations to China. Since the spread of the disease in the US, many Chinese provinces, cities, enterprises and people from all walks of life have made generous donations to friendly states, cities, enterprises and people in the US. The Chinese side has also facilitated the US purchase of large quantities of medical supplies in China. The epidemic is still spreading and escalating in the US. We are ready to cooperate with the US side in fighting COVID-19, including sharing prevention and control information and experience, so as to save more lives. We urge the US side to stop politicizing the outbreak and stigmatizing the virus, and to stop smearing China and shirking its responsibility, but focus on curbing the epidemic in the US and creating a favorable atmosphere for our cooperation in COVID-19 containment.

Zheng Zeguang pointed out, China is currently coordinating epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, making efforts to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and combating poverty. Against the backdrop of regular epidemic prevention and control, we have actively ensured stability in employment, financial operations, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations, and ensured security in job, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary-level governments. Besides, China has taken a series of strong fiscal, tax and financial measures. The fundamentals sustaining China's long-term and sound economy have not changed and will remain unchanged. In the second quarter of this year, China's industry and service sector grew, with consumption and investment continuing to improve, and major economic indicators improving significantly compared with the first quarter. International capital markets and investors are generally optimistic about China's economic trend, and the International Monetary Fund has also made optimistic forecasts on China's economic outlook.

China's reform and opening-up did not stop due to the epidemic, but continued to advance steadily. In his keynote speech at Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in April, 2018, President Xi Jinping announced four major measures China will take to pursue further opening, including significantly broadening market access; creating a more attractive investment environment; strengthening protection of intellectual property rights; and taking the initiative to expand imports. Over the past two years, these measures have been implemented and produced positive results. First, the average tariff rate has been reduced to 7.5 percent, exceeding all other major developing countries and approaching the level of developed countries. In January this year, China has again lowered tariffs on more than 850 items, including daily consumer goods, important drugs and advanced technology and equipment. Second, we have expanded market access to the financial sector, service industry, manufacturing industry, agriculture, infrastructure and other fields. For four consecutive years, we have substantially shortened the negative list for foreign investment and that for pilot free trade zones, and the restrictive measures were reduced from 93 and 122 to 33 and 30, respectively. Third, the measures for further opening up the financial industry were released last July. Now China's financial sector is fully open to the outside world. Fourth, we have accelerated the construction of Hainan free trade port and built more pilot free trade zones and integrated bonded areas in the central and western regions. Fifth, we have enacted Implementing Regulations of the Foreign Investment Law of the People's Republic of China to comprehensively strengthen intellectual property protection and created a market environment where domestic and foreign companies are treated equally and compete on a level playing field. In today's world, mankind lives in a community with a shared future, and win-win cooperation is the trend of the times. China's determination to deepen reform and promote opening-up will not change, and the same goes for its commitment to welcome more foreign investments and cooperation in China. We will continue to build a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment, and treat enterprises of all ownership types, both domestic and foreign, as equals.

Zheng Zeguang pointed out, Chinese and US economy are highly complementary as our economy are in different development stages. Economic and trade cooperation between both countries is determined by international industrial division and is also the choice made by companies and consumers in the two countries. The essence of China-US economic and trade relations is mutual benefit and win-win results and it has been proved by numerous facts. The Chinese side is sincere in implementing its commitments in the phase one trade deal, but the implementation of the deal requires joint efforts from the two sides. The US side should stop its restrictions and discrimination against Chinese companies, so as to create favorable conditions for the deal's implementation. The US side has made everything a matter of national security, and suppressed Chinese tech firms. Such moves will force Chinese firms to accelerate self-innovation and boost faster development of China's high-tech industry, making US companies lose market share and cooperation opportunities they could have. Those in the US who advocate severing economic ties with China go against basic common sense and economic laws and harm the fundamental interests of businesses and consumers in both countries. We urge the US side to correct its mistakes, give up anti-China gibberish, and stop doing anything that benefits none.

Zheng Zeguang noted, AmCham China and its member companies have been doing business in China for many years, and have witnessed the historic changes brought about to China by reform and opening-up and felt for themselves the huge benefits brought to both sides by China-US economic and trade cooperation. You are the driving force and bridge of China-US relations. We will continue to welcome US investments in China and support businesses of the two countries to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation. It is hoped that the US business community will seize the opportunities brought about by China's booming economy and China's wider opening-up, and strengthen cooperation with Chinese enterprises to pursue common development and achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.

People from the US business community who attended the symposium said, the US business circle attaches great importance to the Chinese market and is optimistic about the prospects of China's economic development. They welcome a series of reform and opening-up measures introduced by the Chinese government, and are willing to continue to take root in China and grow with China. The stable development of US-China relations is critical to cooperation between the two countries. The US business community clearly opposes the "decoupling" of the two economies. It is hoped that the US and China will implement the phase one trade deal and create a favorable environment for cooperation between enterprises of the two countries.

Representatives from the US side raised some specific questions on US companies' operations in China. Zheng Zeguang and other officials from the General Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce answered their questions.

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