US Vice President Joe Biden urged China to establish a level playing field for foreign and private businesses operating in China during a recent speech in Beijing. He stressed the need for rules that would open up investment in China’s services sector, protect intellectual property, and lead to a relationship of mutual economic benefit.
“We’re trying to build a new kind of relationship between major powers, one that’s different, one that is defined by constructive cooperation, healthy competition, and a shared respect for an agreed upon new set of rules of the road and international norms for the 21st century,” he said.
More than 50 American business executives attended the December 5 breakfast, which was co-hosted by the US-China Business Council (USCBC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. Biden and exiting US Ambassador to China Gary Locke spoke with business executives after the event.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ken Lousberg, president of Terex Corp.’s China division, said he was happy that Biden “didn’t dance around the issues.”
In addition to calling for faster market reforms, Biden also mentioned several disagreements between the United States and China, including Beijing’s recent crackdown on US journalists and its establishment of a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
The ADIZ—which requires all aircraft entering the zone to identify themselves to Chinese authorities—overlaps with existing zones in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and has turned Biden’s six-day trip to Asia into a sort of diplomatic triage. In five-and-a-half hours of meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Biden indicated that the United States did not recognize the zone and had “deep concerns” about its potential to trigger conflict in the region.
But at the USCBC breakfast, Biden also emphasized the potential of the two countries to overcome conflict by establishing rules of commercial engagement that would ensure “predictability and stability.”
“Getting it right isn’t going to be easy, and it’s going to require direct straightforwardness with one another about our interests, our concerns and, quite frankly, our expectations,” he said. “Ultimately what matters most on both sides is our ability to deliver better for our people without it being viewed as a zero-sum game.”
Biden thanked American and Chinese business leaders at the end of his speech, saying “the shared prosperity that you help create is part of the glue that will hold together this relationship.”
Note: USCBC is the publisher of the China Business Review.
[author] Catherine Matacic ([email protected]) is associate editor of the China Business Review. [/author]