The appearance of Tesla billionaire entrepreneur icon Elon Musk in Beijing this week underscores the continuing importance of the China market to the U.S. amid geopolitical and military strains between the two countries, as well as the key role of businesses in Sino-U.S. ties, American Chamber of Commerce in China President Michael Hart said in an interview.

“Over the last three years, it’s (been) pretty obvious when the U.S. and Chinese governments weren’t talking to each other, the business community continued to play a very vital role to make sure that trade and discussions continued.” said Hart, speaking by Zoom after his return to Beijing following a “door knock” visit by a dozen chamber members to Washington, D.C. earlier this month. AmCham China has nearly 1,000 members including Apple, Merck, KKR, Morgan Stanley, Microsoft and Intel.

A solution is wider national attention in the U.S. to commerce with China, and greater efforts to safeguard American technology and intellectual property, suggested Hart, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, whose career in Asia has spanned more than a quarter century after landing in Taiwan in 1996. The graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia moved to mainland China in 2003 and was an executive at JLL in both Shanghai and Tianjin before setting up his own firm in Tianjin in 2019 and joining AmCham China last year. “We have to keep the commercial end of this up, and we need to continue to trade,” given China’s size and global importance, he said.

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