On July 7, AmCham China had the honor of hosting a roundtable with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, other members of the Treasury department, and nearly a dozen business leaders.
AmCham China President Michael Hart opened the meeting by thanking the Secretary for her visit and noting that the American business community has called for more exchanges between China and the US at all levels, including students, academic leaders, business people and government officials.
Hart said that Yellen’s statement “that if we are having trouble communicating with China, we should at least start by talking about economics” was a viewpoint shared by the US business community in China. He also noted that, despite challenges in the bilateral relationship, the business community tried to find common cause with counterparts in China by employing, sourcing, producing, buying, selling, and otherwise operating in a manner that both reflects American values and benefits the United States and China.
In her opening remarks, Secretary Yellen spoke of her desire to further the goal – first stated by Presidents Biden and Xi at their meeting in Bali last November – of deepening bilateral communications, including on economic issues, saying, “We believe that it is in the best interests of both countries to make sure we have direct and clear lines of communication at senior levels. In the economic realm, regular exchanges with our Chinese counterparts can help us monitor economic and financial risks, and it can help create the conditions for a healthy economic relationship between our two countries.”
Secretary Yellen noted that the US seeks healthy economic competition with China, but emphasized that healthy economic competition where both sides benefit is only sustainable if that competition is fair. She further added that she raised various concerns from the US business community with her Chinese counterparts, including China’s use of non-market tools such as expanded subsidies for state-owned enterprises and domestic firms, as well as barriers to market access for foreign firms, noting that she had been particularly troubled by punitive actions taken against US firms in recent months.
Secretary Yellen said that she believes further market reforms would be in China’s interests, noting that a market-based approach in the past had helped spur rapid growth in China, creating what she termed a “remarkable economic success story.” Finally, she emphasized that a decoupling of the world’s two largest economies would be destabilizing for the global economy and virtually impossible to undertake, nothing that trade between the two countries reached an all-time high in 2022.
The closed-door meeting that followed lasted for over an hour, during which AmCham China member companies briefed the Secretary on the situation their companies face on the ground in China. Those in attendance included AmCham China Vice Chair Roberta Lipson (United Family Healthcare) and AmCham China Board member Sherry Carbary (Boeing).