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Xinhua Silk Road
International Relation

Interview: Decoupling from China to cost U.S. opportunities, says Chinese business chamber head

November 15, 2019


Abstract : A policy-driven economic decoupling between the United States and China would result in the former losing out on opportunities, a veteran Chinese banker has said.

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- A policy-driven economic decoupling between the United States and China would result in the former losing out on opportunities, a veteran Chinese banker has said.

Xu Chen, chairman of China General Chamber of Commerce-U.S.A. (CGCC) and president and CEO of Bank of China USA, told Xinhua in an interview Wednesday that developments in the past four decades demonstrated that cooperation between the two countries is an excellent "investment" deal.

"If decoupling happens, it will surely increase costs to companies and consumers, and we are already seeing the consequences in the markets," warned Xu.

"Imagine how much more your iPhone would cost if its production moved back to the United States," said Xu, noting that the average salary of an American assembly worker is almost 10 to 20 times that of a Chinese worker.

He added that cost-effective manufacturing in China has greatly benefited American companies and consumers, while the pollution generated is left in China.

U.S. exports to China alone supported more than 1.1 million jobs annually in the United States from 2009 to 2018, and on average saved 850 U.S. dollars of living expenses annually for each American family, said Xu citing a U.S.-China Business Council report.

The huge profits earned from the Chinese market are a crucial source for research and development as well as value returned to the stock markets and investors, said Xu.

He noted that automation and robotics pose an even greater challenge to global labor markets than simply cheaper labor.

In the case of decoupling, no other trading partner could fill China's role easily, said Xu, adding that "neither advanced economies like the European Union, Japan and Canada, nor emerging markets such as Mexico, India, Vietnam, Thailand and Brazil, can match with the Chinese market for its supply or demand."

China has become the world's second-largest importer of goods and services. By 2021, China could overtake the United States as the world's top consumer market with annual retail sales of more than 5.8 trillion dollars, Xu said.

In the next 15 years, China's imports of goods and services are expected to exceed 30 trillion dollars and 10 trillion dollars, respectively.

"In 2018 alone, 150 million Chinese people traveled abroad," he said. "Just imagine that amount of buying power and the service companies that have benefited from that massive growing demand unleashed by China's consumption and opening-up."

As China continues to grow and open its financial markets, simply no other market can offer the same potential to U.S. companies, Xu added.

U.S. financial services such as banking, securities, insurance, asset management, fund management and consulting services have unique opportunities in China, according to Xu.

China's economic growth after joining the World Trade Organization is providing massive opportunities to American financial firms, much more than what anyone ever expected 18 years ago, said Xu.

"I would therefore argue that given the size and depth of the market in China, it would be unimaginable for any top executives of American firms to shy away from these opportunities," Xu said.

What some people in the United States fail to recognize today is that China is not a simple bystander, but part of a globally integrated economy that cannot and should not be decoupled from, he added.

"Our true enemies are those who falsely promote that China's rise can only lead to America's fall," Xu said. "A prosperous and stable China is in the interest of the United States."

He appealed to the two sides to find common ground to learn from each other, join hands to work for the greater good, and build a brighter future together.

Founded in 2005, the CGCC has been recognized as the largest and most influential non-profit organization representing Chinese enterprises in the United States with its membership consisting of more than 1,500 Chinese and U.S. companies.

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