China’s US ambassador Cui Tiankai condemns ‘cold warriors’ – but tells Chinese firms to learn from Americans

  • Cui urges audience in US to reject ‘self-proclaimed strategists, who are new cold warriors’, and to say no to decoupling from trade partners
  • Chinese companies’ best response is ‘confidence in openness’, including ‘readiness to learn from American partners’
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 2:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2019, 7:12am

Beijing’s top diplomat in Washington has urged the US business community to resist decoupling from China’s economy and his own country’s companies to show greater openness to American-style management.

“I’m fully aware of the situation that you have to face sometimes when doors are closed on you,” Ambassador Cui Tiankai said in a keynote address at the annual gala of the China General Chamber of Commerce – USA (CGCC-USA) in New York.

Addressing the executives of Chinese companies in attendance, Cui said: “I fully share your concerns and your opposition to these attempts. My advice is never give up. Never give in. The best response to such attempts is greater openness. Have confidence in openness.

“This kind of openness also means the readiness to learn from your American partners. Not only in terms of technology and management skills, but also, more importantly, their capacity for imagination and culture for innovation.”

Cui issued his appeal as negotiators from the United States took part in trade talks in Beijing, including the deputy US trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish, a long-time ally of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – who, along with White House trade policy adviser Peter Navarro, has taken a hard line against China’s trade and investment policies.

Navarro is an economist best known for writing Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – A Global Call to Action. The book accuses Beijing of unfair trade tactics that caused the loss of millions of US jobs since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001.

Chinese VP attends trade talks – unlike America’s top officials

CGCC-USA has a membership of about 1,500 companies, including the US units of Bank of China and the country’s other biggest commercial lenders as well as American companies such as Boeing and Citigroup.

Cui told attendees from companies on both sides: “Never allow yourselves to be misguided by some narrow-minded political correctness. Be clear about what you really want. Don’t have the illusion that some self-proclaimed strategists, who are actually new cold warriors, can solve your problems for you.

“A free ride on their wagon will not take you to your destination. Have the moral courage to say no to those advocating the disruption of international supply chains, fragmentation of the global market, decoupling of our trade partners, zero-sum confrontation and even a new cold war.”

The ambassador’s remarks about closing doors appeared to refer to new restrictions the US government has placed on investments by foreign companies, a move largely targeting China, as well as export restrictions to the country.

Chinese acquisitions of US companies plunge 95 per cent in 2018

In August, Congress greatly expanded the national security review role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), an inter-agency body.

The new law broadened the committee’s authority to include oversight of joint ventures and real-estate lease acquisitions, making foreign investment more difficult. Subsequent rules defining the powers of CFIUS will give it jurisdiction over non-controlling investments in US companies in emerging technology sectors.

Purchases of US firms by Chinese buyers dropped to US$3 billion in 2018, continuing a descent from US$55.3 billion in 2016 to US$8.7 billion in 2017, according to the global research group Mergermarket.

This sharp decline contrasted with an 11.5 per cent increase, to US$3.53 trillion, in overall global mergers and acquisitions.