US Chamber chief visits China in sign of warming business ties


BEIJING: The head of US Chamber of Commerce is visiting China this week to meet with American businesses and Chinese officials, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest sign of improving ties between the world’s two biggest economies.

Suzanne Clark, chief executive officer of the US business lobby group, will be accompanied by former US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

In addition to meeting executives from US companies, she will also meet with a number of as yet undisclosed Chinese officials, the person said.

Washington and Beijing have been working to stabilize ties after President Joe Biden met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in November, leading to a resumption of communications between their two militaries and the launch of a working group to curb the flow of the drug fentanyl to the US.

The US Chamber didn’t respond to a request for comment sent outside of office hours in Washington.

US companies have expressed optimism about China’s near-term business environment, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China conducted late 2023, though many are still holding off on investing.

While the US Chamber of Commerce and AmCham China both represent American businesses, they are separate organisations.

Clark’s visit comes ahead of AmCham China’s annual appreciation dinner on Friday, where this year’s guest of honour is expected to be Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, according to the people.

Han is the most-senior official to participate in the dinner, one of the person said, a sign that Beijing sees better US-China relations now than a year ago. It signals that the Chinese government wants to show it’s reaching out to the foreign business community, the person said.

Individual tickets for the AmCham China dinner are on sale for 10,000 yuan (US$1,389), according to its website. In 2020, Beijing sent Wang Chen, a top official sanctioned by the US, to the annual event. - Bloomberg

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