Every year, AmCham China leads a delegation of China-based executives to Washington DC. Collectively our delegation represents hundreds of years of on-the-ground business experience in the Chinese market, sent to communicate the Chamber’s positions and influence the conversations on US-China relations in DC.
Last week, for the first time in three years, an AmCham China’s DC Doorknock delegation, led by Chairman Colm Rafferty and President Michael Hart, was on the ground in Washington DC for a week of meetings with think tank representatives, members of Congress and various departments of the Biden administration.
The first session of the the week was a breakfast briefing by David Finkelstein from the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), who outlined the various angles of tension over Taiwan, while also explaining the view from Washington on a number of national security issues.
Following that was a meeting with the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, at which several Commissioners asked questions of the AmCham China delegation regarding the AmCham China White Paper and April Flash Survey Results.
Next was a lunchtime briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), hosted by Scott Kennedy, who invited half a dozen of his colleagues to swap views on issues pertaining to China and the region.
After lunch, the delegation split into two groups, with half (above) meeting Daniel Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from the Department of State.
The other half of the group (above) met with Ambassador Sarah Bianchi, the Deputy United States Trade Representative, who discussed the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) and other trade-related topics.
Day one finished with a meeting with Derek Scissors from the American Enterprise Institute. Scissors discussed with the group the challenges of coordinating China-focused policy in DC, while sharing his views on how best the delegation should look to promote diversification in their operations and supply chains.
On Day Two, our Chamber delegation joined the 13th Annual China Business Conference, co-hosted by AmCham China and the US Chamber of Commerce.
The Conference is the premier forum for exchanging ideas on US-China economic and commercial relations, including economic, political, and regulatory developments affecting American business in China. This year’s conference covered the full suite of issues weighing on the US-China relationship including domestic politics in China, the post-Zero-COVID economy, commercial opportunities and regulatory challenges for foreign business in China, decoupling and supply chain resilience, tech competition, reputational risk of doing business in China, and a broad array of national security issues.
AmCham China Chairman Colm Rafferty and the US Chamber’s China Center President Jeremie Waterman both gave opening remarks to kick off the conference. Rafferty emphasized that while the Chamber’s membership understands the national security concerns related to various aspects of the bilateral relationship, AmCham China aims to maximize beneficial trade and development and keep the commercial lanes as open as is reasonably possible. He provided some key recommendations, which included keeping economic and trade lanes open, coordinating with partners on relevant issues, restarting government-to-government communication at all levels and increasing people-to-people exchanges. Finally, he encouraged the US and China governments to address areas of concern while also ensuring that the American business community remains an active and positive force in China.
The first panel, “View from the Ground: The State of Foreign Business in Post-Zero COVID China” showcased three members of the AmCham China delegation: moderator Bill Zarit, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group and an AmCham China Board member; Michael Hart, AmCham China President; and Sean Stein, Chairman of AmCham China Shanghai and Senior Advisor at Covington & Burling. The group discussed the current sentiment on the ground in China, with Hart noting some shifting trends in Chinese consumer behavior. Stein spoke about the business climate for US companies on the ground in China, noting that American companies selling goods and industrials in the Chinese market are doing well, but that companies selling into the Chinese export machine are struggling to sell to Chinese consumers. He also said that local governments in China are more proactive in supporting US business and are trying to accelerate and help with US investments in China. The panel also disputed a notion in DC that US business community is naive about the national security risks of working in China.
Overall, the first day of the 13th Annual China Business Conference was a great success, with AmCham China and the US Chamber of Commerce co-hosting an engaging forum for exchanging ideas on US-China economic and commercial relations.
On day three, the Chamber delegation returned to the US Chamber of Commerce for the second day of the 13th Annual China Business Conference, co-hosted by AmCham China and the US Chamber of Commerce.
The second day of the Conference hosted another fantastic lineup of speakers. Panels included “The View from the Senate” with Senators Dan Sullivan and Chris Van Hollen, “US-China Technology Competition: Getting the Policy Mix Right for AI, Bioeconomy, Quantum, and Semiconductors”, “Preparing for Taiwan Risk: Implications for US Companies and the Global Economy”, and “Views from the House: Is the US Rising to the Competition or Still in the Starting Blocks?”, which was moderated by delegation member and former AmCham China Chairman Jim McGregor, who was joined by Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the joint chairs of the House Select Committee on China.
After the conference, the delegation attended a dinner with Charge D’Affaires Madam Xu Xueyuan and her team at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. After presenting Madam Xu with the 25th annual White Paper and China Business Climate Survey Report, the group had a meaningful and wide-ranging discussion on the current environment for American business in China.
On Day Four, our delegation divided into three groups – Red, White, and Blue – to tackle over 20 congressional meetings on the Hill. Beyond delivering the White Paper, our latest Flash Survey results, and the China Business Climate Survey Report, the groups advocated to lawmakers about the need to keep commercial lanes open and work to safeguard American technological development and intellectual property, reinforced the need to coordinate with allies and partners to establish the rules of the 21st century economy, encouraged the rebuilding mechanisms for US-China communication, and stressed the importance for more people-to-people exchanges.
After a team briefing over breakfast, the Blue Team headed to the office of Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), where they met with Tom Melia, the senator’s senior foreign policy advisor (pictured above).
Meanwhile, the Red Team met with US Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (pictured above) (D-IL), co-chair of the House Select Committee on China, who had spoken at the China Business Conference the day before.
The White Team’s first meeting of the day was with staffers from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) office. After that, they met with Zack Hosford, (pictured above) National Security Advisor to Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The Red Team (pictured above) then met with the foreign affairs team of Michael McCaul (R-TX) to discuss views on the CHIPS Act and competition with China, among other issues.
Next up, the Blue Team met with Danuta Pereira (pictured above), a legislative aide with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).
The White Team took a break next to the Capitol Building in between meetings.
The Red Team sat down with the trade team of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The White Team took their next meeting with Shayne Woods, Legislative Assistant for Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).
After all three teams reconvened for lunch at the Capitol Hill Club, the Blue Team headed off to meet with Representative Darin LaHood (R-IL).
The White Team sat down with Omri Ceren, the national security advisor for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The Red Team met with Katie Morley, the senior trade staffer for Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE).
The Blue Team (pictured above) then met with Jon Abdnor, policy advisor for Senator John Thume (R-SD), followed by a sit-down with Flynn Marron from the office of Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC).
The Red Team had an in-depth discussion with Representative Andy Barr (R-KY).
The White Team met with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE, pictured above) and the Blue Team rounded out the day’s congressional proceedings with a discussion with Eli Weiner, an aide of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO).
Following a hugely productive day of meetings, the entire delegation convened at a reception hosted by the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce at FedEx’s DC headquarters. You can read more about that event here.
The Red Team met with Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), a regular feature from previous DC Doorknocks.
On Day Five, our delegation continued their meetings in Washington DC, with a focus on various departments of the Biden administration.
Before that happened, however, the White Team had one final congressional appointment, meeting with Representative Young Kim (R-CA).
At the same time, the remaining members of the delegation headed to the State Department to meet with Matt Murray (pictured above), the US Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and a long-time friend of AmCham China from his previous posting at the US Embassy in Beijing. During the same meeting, Rick Waters, China Coordinator and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China and Taiwan, also dropped by to speak with the group about recent developments.
After a quick lunch, the delegation visited the Commerce Department for perhaps the highlight of the day, meeting at length with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo who exchanged views with the delegation on a range of issues. Joining Secretary Raimondo for the meeting were various members of her team, including Ted Dean, who served two terms as AmCham China Chair 2011-12, and Elizabeth Economy and Scott Tatlock, who had both visited the AmCham China office in Beijing just weeks earlier.
Next up, the delegation headed to USDA for a meeting with Acting Deputy Under Secretary Jason Hafemeister, ahead of his upcoming trip to China, where the healthy state of the bilateral agricultural trading relationship was discussed.
The final meeting of the week took place at the National Security Council (NSC) where the delegation met with Sarah Beran, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for China and Taiwan Affairs.
After a hugely productive week, which included dozens of meetings, the AmCham China delegation went to a drinks reception hosted by Crowell & Moring, attended by several members of the growing AmCham China DC Alumni group. The group now returns to China with renewed optimism despite ongoing challenges and looks forward to continuing to play a constructive role in the US-China relationship.