Inside the 13th Annual China Business Conference

The AmCham China Quarterly takes you inside the 13th Annual China Business Conference held in May in Washington, DC. Co-hosted by AmCham China and the US Chamber of Commerce, this premier forum brought together industry leaders, experts, and policymakers to explore the intricacies of US-China economic and commercial relations. From post-Zero-COVID economic landscapes to supply chain resilience and emerging tech competition, this year’s Conference offered invaluable insights into the opportunities and challenges faced by American businesses in China.

May 9, 2023 - Washington, DC, USA: 13th annual China Business Conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

AmCham China Chairman Colm Rafferty

Photo courtesy of AmCham China

The China Business Conference, held from May 8 to May 10, covered a wide range of topics encompassing economic, political, and regulatory developments that impact American businesses in China. Coinciding with AmCham China’s DC Doorknock trip, this Conference provided a platform for in-depth discussions on domestic politics, the post-Zero-COVID economy, commercial opportunities, regulatory challenges, decoupling, supply chain resilience, tech competition, reputational risks, and national security concerns.

The Conference kicked off with an engaging welcome reception, setting the stage for two days of thought-provoking conversations and networking opportunities.

Day One

Day One commenced with opening remarks from AmCham China Chairman Colm Rafferty and the US Chamber’s China Center President Jeremie Waterman. Rafferty emphasized AmCham China’s commitment to fostering beneficial trade and development while acknowledging national security concerns. Key recommendations included keeping economic and trade lanes open, coordinating with partners on pertinent issues, reestablishing government-to-government communication at all levels, and promoting people-to-people exchanges. Rafferty also underscored the importance of addressing concerns while ensuring that the American business community remains a proactive and positive force in China.

The first panel, titled “View from the Ground: The State of Foreign Business in Post-Zero COVID China,” featured prominent members of the AmCham China DC Doorknock delegation. Moderator Bill Zarit, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group and AmCham China Board member was joined by Michael Hart, AmCham China President, and Sean Stein, Chairman of AmCham China Shanghai, and Senior Advisor at Covington & Burling. The panel shed light on the current business landscape in China, with Hart noting shifting trends in Chinese consumer behavior. Stein shared insights into the business climate for US companies, highlighting the success of those selling goods and industrials within the Chinese market, while acknowledging the challenges faced by those targeting the Chinese export sector. The panel also refuted the notion that the US business community is oblivious to the national security risks associated with operating in China.

Day One continued with compelling contributions from notable speakers and moderators, including author Evan Osnos, Lingling Wei from The Wall Street Journal, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, Australian Ambassador to the US Dr. Kevin Rudd, and more. The panels explored a wide variety of topics, such as decoupling and supply chain resilience, the post-COVID economy in China, and an insightful discussion on understanding Xi Jinping’s China.

Sean Stein, AmCham Shanghai / Covington & Burling; Michael Hart, AmCham China; William Zarit,
Cohen Group
Photo courtesy of AmCham China
Former USTR Michèle Flournoy, WestExec Advisors, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Charlene Barshefsky, Parkside Global Advisors
Photo courtesy of AmCham China

Day Two

Day Two showcased another excellent lineup of speakers and discussions, focusing on cybersecurity, digital transformation, and the future of innovation in China. Panels included “The View from the Senate” featuring 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?” The latter panel, moderated by delegation member and former AmCham China Chairman Jim McGregor, featured Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the joint chairs of the House Select Committee on China.

Additional notable speakers from Day Two included Sinocism author Bill Bishop, The Wire’s David Barboza, Bonnie Glaser from the German Marshall Fund of the US, Jimmy Goodrich from the Semiconductor Industry Association, Alan Estevez from the US Department of Commerce, and many more.

The 13th Annual China Business Conference, a resounding success following a shift to online platforms in recent years due to COVID, served as a platform for AmCham China and the US Chamber of Commerce to facilitate meaningful discussions and foster collaboration around the US-China relationship. The Conference provided invaluable insights into the complex dynamics of US-China economic and commercial relations, empowering businesses to navigate the ever-evolving landscape with knowledge and strategic foresight.


This article is from the AmCham China Quarterly Magazine (Issue 2, 2023). To access the entire publication for free, sign up on our member portal here.