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Speech by Consul General Zhang Ping At China-San Bernardino Trade Symposium

It gives me great pleasure to attend this China-San Bernardino Trade Symposium jointly hosted by the San Bernardino City government, the SBD international airport and the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles. Being the co-host of this event, I wish, first of all, to extend warm welcome toall the distinguished guests and participants and thank you very much for your attendance.

Almost two months ago, when Mayor Valdivia and I met to discuss the possibility of bringing Chinese business into the Inland Empire to make full use of the existing facilities of SBD international airport, we came up with an idea of putting up a symposium which we thought might be a good starting point to build the connection between Chinese companies and the local business community. To prepare this event, Mayor Valdivia kindly invited me and my colleagues to visit SBD international airport, which enabled me to get a better understanding of its business environment and its development needs. Today we have invited the representatives from about 50 Chinese companies based in South California. Among them, there are not only big airline companies such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, but also companies doing e-commerce and logistics such as JD.com, Alibaba and SF Logistics. Most of these companies have been operating in the US for many years and have great experience in local operation and market development. I hope today’s symposium will be the beginning for Chinese companies to build up a long term partnership with the Inland Empire.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It has been almost two years since I came to work in Los Angeles as Chinese consul general. Since my arrival, I have been deeply impressed by the close economic and trade ties as well as strong people to people connections between China and California.

 China is California's largest trading partner, the largest source of import and the third largest export market. California's export to China ranks second in all the US states, and its import from China ranks first. In the past decade, California’s export of goods to China has increased by 64%, and its export of service has increased by 309%. California has also attracted the most Chinese investment among all the US states, with a cumulative total of 31.37 billion USD over the past 20 years.  

Here in Southern California, the track record is particularly impressive. Nearly one-third of the trade volume between China and the US goes through the Los Angeles customs zone. It has the largest number of Chinese companies in the US. According to our statistics, by the end of 2018, nearly 700 Chinese companies have business operations in Southern California, ranging from trade, finance, transportation, telecommunication, clean-tech, biomedicine, agriculture to tourism, real estate and media. It is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists with 1.2 million Chinese tourist arrivals registered last year. Every week, over 90 flights are flying between Los Angeles and China. The robust development of China-California economic cooperation and people to people exchanges has brought tangible benefits in term of job creation, revenue increase and contributed to the prosperity and wellbeing of local communities.

The current trade friction, which has been going on for almost two years, has obviously produced negative impact on China-US economic and trade relations. Here in Southern California, cargoes coming from and going to China have seen more than 10% decrease in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports and the Chinese investment has seen drastic decline. The tightened US visa measures have made it more difficult for Chinese students and tourists to come to the US.  

What is more concerning is that some people in the US even clamor for a full decoupling with China, which, if we allow this to happen, would bring tremendous harm to not only our bilateral relations but also to two peoples. The various negative things that are happening in other areas also pose a big risk and challenge to the future of China-US relationship.

China and the US share a wide range of common interests. Our industrial, supply and value chains are deeply interconnected, and our interests are closely entwined. Decoupling is neither sensible nor realistic. China stands for mutually beneficial cooperation with the US and is committed to advancing China-US relationship centered on coordination, cooperation and stability. We are willing to solve the differences, including the trade dispute, through dialogue and consultation based on equality and mutual benefit. Just yesterday, China and the US started a new round of trade negotiation. I hope it will come up with some good results.

Under the present difficult situation of China-US relations, what should our business communities do? I think it is important that we remain forward looking and stay committed to China-US cooperation.

China is now the world’s second largest economy and the second largest importer of goods and services. It has the world’s largest and most promising market with the largest and fastest growing middle-income population. The development of China will continue. Potentials of economic growth in China are enormous and opportunities for international cooperation remain abundant. The further reform and opening up in China and continuous improvement of business environment will allow more foreign companies and products to get into Chinese market. That explains why, despite the on-going trade frictions, 87% of US companies indicated that they would choose to stay in China and 74% of the members of AmCham China plan to invest more in China. This November again in Shanghai, China will host the second International Import Expo. We welcome the active participation by US companies who wish to increase their exports to China.

We need to take good care of the outcome of decades of hard working efforts by our two peoples to ensure that our economic cooperation and people to people exchanges continue to flourish rather than be weakened or eroded by a policy based on fear or suspicion.

Sub-national cooperation is one of the foundations and driving forces of China-US relations. Its development requires support and contribution by our two business communities as well as people of all walks of life. The Chinese Consulate General supports any efforts that are conducive to China-US sub-national exchanges and cooperation and wish to see a strong partnership be established between our two business communities. I do hope today’s symposium will serve its purpose of building a platform where our business leaders can work together to bring more benefits to our people and greater prosperity to our communities.

I wish the symposium a great success.

Thank you.

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