12th Annual China Business Conference
Conducted virtually for the second time, the 12th annual China Business Conference spanned five days in March. The event brought together some of the top names from both the US and China to discuss all the main topics of interest within the US-China relationship.
AmCham China and the US Chamber of Commerce recently organized the 2022 China Business Conference (CBC), which spanned five days from March 9th to March 11th and March 14th and 15th. The China Business Conference is the premier forum in the United States for exchanging ideas on US-China economic and commercial relations, and for helping to shape the bilateral policy agenda. Nearly 1,000 high-level corporate, government, and academic influencers attend the conference each year. This year, the conference brought together 700 attendees and 300 business leaders from AmCham China member companies to share ideas and network. Past speakers have included current and former Administration officials, CEOs and business leaders, and Members of Congress.
At this year’s conference, speakers included leading academics, CEOs, business leaders, and former Administration officials, including Chris Johnson, President and CEO of China Strategies Group; Jennifer Harris, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Economics & Labor, National Security Council and National Economic Council; Junfeng Li, Dean of Carbon Neutral Research Institute and Chairman of Vision Carbon Neutrality Fund at Sequoia Capital; Weiming Xiang, President of GE China; Lingling Wei, Chief China Correspondent of the Wall Street Journal, and many other top names.
The Event Makes a Virtual Return
The five-day 2022 CBC marked the second time that the event was conducted virtually, enabling both China and US-based members to access the event. A series of online panel discussions and keynote speeches throughout the five days of the conference provided attendees with exclusive insights into the most important bilateral relationship in the world. On day one, leaders from the European Chamber of Commerce in China, American Chamber of Commerce in China, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai discussed the state of foreign business in China, highlighting changing regulations and politics amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts on China and East Asia had a discussion on what a third term for Chinese President Xi Jinping would look like for domestic and foreign governments and businesses, especially with regard to his economic, foreign, domestic, and security policies. In a conversation moderated by Lingling Wei, Chief China Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, top economists explored “China’s Changing Growth Model: New Trends in the Chinese Economy,” touching on the evolving trends in China’s economic agenda, the future of foreign investment, the national dual circulation and common prosperity goals, the Chinese effort to attain economic self-sufficiency, the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on China’s economy, and more.
Geopolitics, Data Governance, and Risk Management
In line with a series of panels on global economics and politics, day one ended with a discussion led by Myron Brilliant, the Executive Vice President and Head of the International Affairs Division of the US Chamber of Commerce, titled “A Changed World for Business: Navigating a New Geopolitics and Strains on the Global Economic System.” This panel covered the business implications of growing tension between Russia and the West, impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war on the global food supply chain, risk management strategies, and President Biden’s future China policy and international economic agenda.
On day two of the conference, several international markets and trade experts weighed in on the role of the state in China’s commercial ecosystem, analyzing the “lose-lose” situation that foreign companies are trapped in due to economic coercion and extraterritoriality. Another panel, led by high-ranking executives and CEOs in technology, involved a discussion on China’s “digital fortress”; the country’s approach to data governance; and the regulation of digital exchange, AI, and algorithms. This panel also explored the potential economic impacts of the US and China’s desire for digital bifurcation. In the final panel of the day, experts in geopolitics shared their insights on “National Security Strategy, Technology, and the Private Sector.” The final panel on day two explored the intersection between private sector technology and national security, government contracts and the US procurement system, talent development, and other policy approaches to harness domestic innovation.
The Winter Olympics, Economic Diplomacy, and the Impact of Sanctions
Day three began with a panel of experts unpacking “Lessons from Huawei, Working with Allies and Partners, and the Future of US Export Control Policy Toward China,” highlighting that although plurilateral export controls have been effective against Russia in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, China’s economy and industrial base are positioned in a way that would make export controls significantly less effective. During this panel, experts noted that China’s efforts to indigenize key technology after the Huawei Foreign Direct Product Rule have made its economy increasingly resilient to Western economic sanctions. Next, a panel evaluated current US attempts to regulate outbound and inbound Chinese foreign investment, including Casey-Cornyn’s National Critical Capabilities Defense Act (NCCDA) and the CHIPs Act. Another panel covered “The Current and Future Role of China Sanctions and Their Impact on American Business” and highlighted US sanctions imposed on China such as Chinese Military-Industrial Complex sanctions, human rights sanctions, and Magnitsky sanctions. The day ended with a conversation with Andy Browne, Editorial Director of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum and NBC Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Commentator, on the Beijing Winter Olympics and China’s COVID-19 prevention strategy.
Day four of the 2022 CBC kicked off with a panel on the Biden administration’s China policy, approach to allied cooperation, and Taiwan. Another panel of trade and national security experts projected the impact that US-China relations will have on American business in five years, noting the fundamental shift that has occurred in China’s economic model, growing challenges to the idea that businesses are able to “remain neutral” when it comes to political tensions abroad, and rapidly changing geopolitics. Day four also featured a panel highlighting US congressional perspectives on China, with senators opining on the importance of Chinese reciprocity in trade, investment, and intellectual property theft; China competition legislation; anti-trust legislation; and private-sector cooperation. The final panel on day four explored the future of climate and sustainability cooperation, one of the few “bright spots” left in US-China relations. This panel will be explored in greater detail later in this article. The 12th annual CBC ended with a conversation with several high-ranking international economic advisors and legislators from the European Union, US, and Japan on allied cooperation in response to China and the China-Russia authoritarian axis. The panel concluded with a call for businesses and governments to work together in order to achieve respond to emerging geopolitical challenges and achieve regulatory certainty at home and abroad.