Feature: What do Americans feel about mutually beneficial China-U.S. ties in daily life?

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-06 17:09:14|Editor: Xiang Bo
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by Xinhua writers Yang Shilong, Zhou Xiaozheng, Yuan Yue

PALM BEACH, the United States, April 5 (Xinhua) -- David Blevins is considering to hire a Chinese-speaking attendant as his first step to get ready for a potential increase of tourists from the rising Asian country.

"We would love to see more Chinese visitors in Florida," said the suited-up general manager of an economy hotel near Fort Lauderdale airport in response to Xinhua reporters' questions concerning the local tourism industry.

Traditionally, Canadians make up a major part of the international tourists for the Sunshine State, Blevins said. Yet the recent fluctuations of the Canadian dollar might strain the northern neighbor's purchasing power.

"With Florida's sunshine, seafood, beautiful weather and its lower tax, I'm sure more and more Chinese visitors would gradually flood to us, though now they prefer California and New York," he said.


Blevins was not being confident for nothing. Over the past decade, Chinese visitors to the United States have grown nearly 10-fold from 320,000 arrivals in 2006 to over 3 million in 2016, which was designated as "China-U.S. Tourism Year."

California currently attracts 45.5 percent of all Chinese visitors -the highest percentage of any U.S. state, said Caroline Beteta, President and Chief Executive Officer of Visit California in a interview with Xinhua.

"To be exact, 1.3 million Chinese visitors spent 2.6 billion dollars in California in 2016," she added.

By 2020, China will be the largest international tourist source of the Golden State, taking the place of Canada, Visit California projected. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the numbers are expected to grow to 5.7 million arrivals by 2021.H "Over 90 percent of their visitors are Chinese. I won't be working here if there were not so many Chinese customers," said a salesgirl of the MK store at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in New York, who gave her name as Joyce.

Stephanie Johnson, head of Woodbury's marketing department, told Xinhua that in general, Chinese visitors account for about "one third of our consumers," and as a matter of fact, "Chinese is one of the major service language there."

Indeed, with banners advertizing Union Pay, the Chinese equivalence of Visa or MasterCard, and shopping guides fluent in Mandarin or Cantonese, it is almost hard to tell you are actually in a small town in Central Valley, New York State. No wonder, the Woodbury outlets have been a tax cow for the local Orange County for years.

The U.S. economy has not only benefited from the deep-pocketed Chinese tourists.

Exports of goods from the United States to China had risen by an annual average of 11 percent in the past decade, making China its fastest-growing export market outside North America, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

From 2001 to 2016, U.S. exports of services to China increased 15 fold, with the U.S. service trade surplus rising 29 fold.

As of the end of 2016, non-financial investment in the United States by Chinese enterprises amounted to around 50 billion U.S. dollars, which provided nearly 100,000 jobs across 44 states, the MOC said.

U.S. investment in China has also benefited American firms, 90 percent of which were profitable, as shown by a U.S.-China Business Council survey last year.

"Just give you a sense of broader impact (of Chinese aviation market) on the U.S. economy. Deliveries to China by Boeing support approximately 150,000 U.S. jobs every year. That's an incredible number," said Raymond L. Conner, vice chairman of Boeing Co., the largest U.S. exporter, at an event last December in New York.

Boeing has forecast that in the next 20 years, China will demand 6,810 new aircrafts with a total value of about one trillion U.S. dollars. This demand will make China the biggest customer of Boeing commercial airplanes.


According to the MOC, the two-way trade of goods last year exceeded 519.6 billion U.S. dollars, which makes China the United State's largest trading partner, while the United States China's second largest.

Strikingly, the same number was just 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in 1979 when the two countries broke ice in their relations.

The depth and size the bilateral ties have developed are a result of political vision and will move forward through generations of the leaders of the two countries.

"There's a long tradition, from Nixon through Reagan through Clinton, through both Bushes, Obama of strong cooperative ties between United States and China," 73-year-old Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates told Xinhua in a interview.

The diplomatic veteran who has witnessed the ice breaking trip of China-U.S. relations said that the United States' China policy has been consistent for decades regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats were in power.

"I think respectable economists, not people who were just working for politicians, all agree that bilateral trade has benefited both the United States and China," said Avory Goldstein, political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn), adding that the standard of living of the American people is higher because of less costly Chinese products.

It is unfair for some politicians to blame China for America's loss of manufacturing jobs, Goldstein said, it was more about worldwide market competition, and it was about automation that increases productivity of remaining factories in the United States, which meant fewer workers working in factories.

In his new book, "Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy," Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, pointed out an often-forgotten factor of the decline in U.S. manufacturing since the 1960s: changing consumer demand.

"Rather than arguing over the jobs impact of Chinese import competition, it would be better if both countries acknowledged that there was some negative impacts, and worked together to build a more balanced and mutually beneficial trading relationship for the future," said Alden.

"If the relationship is poorly managed, if the negotiations on trade with China don't go well, and if tariffs are imposed on China, Americans will quickly see the effect," said Goldstein, "which would be an increase in the price of goods."

Michael D. Swaine, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the United States should not opt for "self-defeating economic actions such as a 45-percent tariff on Chinese imports."

When asked about his attitude towards some politician's notion about the containment of China, Hormats said this issue is "basically a dream that some people are living or their minds are in the last century somehow."

"The notion of containment never made any sense arithmetically and never made any sense politically," he said.

"It doesn't mean there won't be areas of dispute (between the two), there are going to be," Hormats said, "the lesson we've learned since the early 1970s is that these two countries work together to find mutually beneficial solution."


The U.S.-China relations have been well beyond the bilateral territories as the world's top two economies share responsibilities in dealing with many regional and global issues, like climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and countering terrorism.

"Premier Zhou (Enlai) made one point," Hormats recalled his interactions with Chinese leaders in his first visit to in China in 1973. "He said 'look, two great powers should work on great projects, have great goals'."

"I think that if the world is going to resolve global problems, a very good relationship with China is essential, which both sides need to work on to make sure, because it's in both sides' interests to have that kind of relationship," he said.

Goldstein also supported the view that the United States should not try to "prevent China from playing a bigger role in the global economy," but should rather figure out "how to cooperate with China in addressing the problems of the global economy and managing some of the difficult trade and financial issues that come up in international economics."

The best example of such cooperation is that the two countries have joined hands and worked together with other countries to counter the international financial crisis and promote a global economic recovery, said Timothy Geithner, treasury secretary during the first term of the Obama administration, at a recent forum on U.S.-China relations.

"If the U.S. and China had not moved forward in climate change conversations, the Paris Agreement would not have happened," said Jacob Lew, treasury secretary from 2013 to 2017 under the Obama administration.

"The U.S. and China have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict," said Jeseph Nye, who was deemed as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers by the Foreign Policy in 2011, in an interview with Xinhua.

Obviously, the world too, has much more to gain from a cooperative than a hostile U.S.-China relationship.