U.S. companies operating in China have largely rejected pleas by President Donald Trump to depart the country despite growing tensions between Beijing and Washington.
According to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, or AmCham, 92% of respondents declared they will stay in China, while more than 25% worried that trade tensions between the two superpowers will last “indefinitely” – up from about 17% one year ago.
Only about 14% of the companies surveyed said they thought these problems will be resolved within a year, CNN reported.
Almost 32% of respondents said the chilled U.S.-China relationship has hurt their efforts to retain staff in China.
The survey of more than 300 companies took place in June and July.
“What is likely underpinning this sense of negativity is concern about broader U.S.-China relations,” AmCham Shanghai said.
Since the survey was conducted relations between the U.S. and China have worsened over a plethora of issues – the White House has threatened to ban some Chinese-owned software over data security concerns, the U.S. has sanctioned a number of Chinese officials over Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, among other imbroglios.
Trump, who has repeatedly blamed China for spreading the COVID-19 virus, has recently vowed to economically “decouple” the U.S. from China should he be reelected president.
Nonetheless, U.S. companies in China said they will benefit from the huge nation’s growing middle class and massive manufacturing capacity.
“American companies still see China’s consumer market as a great opportunity,” said Ker Gibbs, president of the AmCham in Shanghai. “U.S. businesses in China would like to see the two countries resolve their outstanding issues quickly and reduce tensions. A workable cooperative framework for the next decade would be a good place to focus discussions.”
Gibbs added: “COVID-19 hit the Chinese economy hard in early 2020, but the recovery was quick … [But] the geopolitical tension is the number one concern among [U.S.] business operations managers, which is remarkable.”
Trump – who has made China a key part of his reelection campaign – said he wants the U.S. to become economically independent of the Chinese.
“If we didn’t do business with [China] we wouldn’t lose billions of dollars,” he said. “We will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world and [we]will end our reliance on China once and for all.”
Trump also accused his Democratic opponent Joe Biden of acquiescing to China.
“Joe Biden’s agenda is made in China,” Trump said on Tuesday. “My agenda is made in the U.S.A.”
Meanwhile, China’s economy continues to rebound.
China’s dollar-denominated exports rose by 9.5% in August on a year-over-year basis, the country’s General Administration of Customs said. China’s dollar-denominated imports in August fell by 2.1% from the prior year.
The country recorded a trade surplus of $58.93 billion for August, down from a trade surplus of $62.33 billion in July.
China’s trade surplus with the U.S. increased to $34.24 billion in August from $32.46 billion in July.