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US China must build mutually beneficial economic ties

Updated: 2012-04-21 15:58


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LOS ANGELES - US Secretary of Commerce John Bryson told the 21st Committee of 100 Annual "Common Ground" Conference in Los Angeles Friday that the United States and China must continue to build a mutually-beneficial and a balanced economic relationship.

"It's clear that the world's two largest economies are becoming more intertwined each day," said the US secretary of commerce.

Bryson said in a closing keynote speech that US-China relations have come a long way in the 1970s. He mentioned this year marks the 40th anniversary of then US President Richard Nixon's historic trip to China.

"At that time, he rightly predicted that a bridge would be built between China and the US But I think that even he would be amazed by just how far we have come."

He said China has lifted hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty. China is now the second-largest economy in the world and America's second-largest trading partner.

Bryson said over the past three years, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao have met 10 times.

"Today, it's clear that China and the US have benefitted greatly from our growing economic relationship," said Bryson.

He said now the two countries must take further steps to unlock their full potential with balanced growth.

Bryson said the two countries now face great challenges but even greater opportunities.

"And the prosperity and well-being of people in China, America, and -- in fact -- around the world will be deeply affected by how well we cooperate and lead together," said Bryson.

However, the US secretary of commerce stressed American manufacturing as a key part of the US-China relationship.

He said 70 percent of America's R&D and 90 percent of America's patents are in manufacturing -- so preserving and strengthening this sector is essential.

"After a decade in which we lost nearly six million manufacturing jobs, we've now added nearly half a million in the past 25 months," he added.

Bryson said China should welcome American-made goods to address its growing needs, just as the United States is open to Chinese-made goods. And, of course, China's growing middle class wants access to US consumer products and services more than ever before.

He said US goods exported to China have grown by almost 50 percent over the past two years. They topped $100 billion for the first time in 2011.

"However, the goods trade deficit with China grew by about 30 percent. This imbalance means that we must continue to work harder to help US exports reach China. Leveling the playing field is an important way to do that," said Bryson.

On direct investment, Bryson said US companies have substantial investments in China, totaling over $60 billion.

He said these US firms stand ready to invest even more, especially if China supports more openness and transparency in approving foreign investments.

According to Bryson, overall foreign direct investment in the United States has been strong, with $228 billion in 2010, up sharply from 2009.

He said it's encouraging to see more Chinese companies looking to invest in the United States.

China's investment in the United States to date is only around $6 billion, one-tenth of the US investment in China. That's relatively small compared to many other countries.

However, China is now becoming the fastest-growing source of investment into the United States, he added.

"We welcome Chinese companies that see the benefits of choosing the US when they build facilities and create new jobs," said Bryson.

At a roundtable discussion on US-China bilateral investment held earlier Friday afternoon, Chairman of Li & Fung Group Victor Fung talked about his experience to have Chinese local companies as partners while investing in China, but Costco Wholesale Corporation Co-Founder and Director Jim Sinegal expressed his concerns.

Dominic Ng, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of West West Bank told Xinhua in an interview after the discussion that many of the concerns and worries about investing in China show the lack of understanding about China by Americans.

He said that's why it is important to have more American journalists, scholars, students and teachers to visit China, and US President Obama's program to send 100,000 students to China is a good way.

Ng, who is the chairman of the Committee of 100, said the Committee of 100 supported Obama's efforts to promote exchanges between the two countries and provided consulting and other kinds of support to promote mutual understanding between the two countries.

The Committee of 100's 21st Annual Conference in Los Angeles brought together Committee of 100 members and other influential leaders from around the world to address important issues affecting US-China relations and the Chinese-American community.