US business attitudes towards China sour over 'transparency' and geo-political concerns

Wed 26 Apr 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Freight ship passing between Chinese and US flag

US companies are growing increasingly pessimistic about the relationship between Washington and Beijing, according to a survey from a Sino-American business group.

Results from a flash survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China showed that 87% of respondents were either ‘slightly’ or ‘very’ pessimistic about US-China ties.

Bloomberg notes that this figure was 14% higher than when the poll was last conducted by the chamber in the autumn of 2022.

Transparency

Lester Ross, chair of the policy committee at the chamber, told Asia Financial that a lack of transparency from the Chinese government when it came to regulation was a “major concern” for many respondents.

The chamber said: “The deteriorating relationship has placed the American business community in the crosshairs as economic and trade issues have become deeply intertwined with national security and other law enforcement issues.”

Reshoring

Geo-political conflict was also cited as a reason for companies to shift their production outside of mainland China, according to recent research from Kearney.

The consultancy firm’s 2022 Reshoring Index report (published 13 April) found that political concerns – as well as issues over intellectual property and supply chain resilience – were resulting in manufacturing firms moving their facilities to other countries.

According to the South China Morning Post, countries like Vietnam, India and Bangladesh were beneficiaries of this move.

UK attitudes

UK popular opinion towards China has also shifted in recent years.

In October 2022, research from polling company YouGov found that only 13% of Britons had a positive view of China, with almost two-thirds (60%) describing the country either as an ‘enemy’ ‘or ‘rival’ of the UK.

The majority (53%) said that the UK government should prioritise imposing sanctions in regards to the Chinese government’s treatment of its Uyghur minority, even if it damaged trade links, with only 9% saying that the focus should be on the economic relationship.

YouGov noted that attitudes towards China had been declining since 2019.

Cleverly’s move

Recently, UK foreign secretary James Cleverly has called for a more constructive relationship with China, in contrast to fellow senior Conservatives who argue for a more hard-line approach.

Liz Truss, in her brief tenure as prime minister, had urged a more hawkish approach, while her successor Rishi Sunak last year declared the “golden age” of British-Sino relations was “over”.

According to the BBC, Cleverly stated that that the mutual relationship would still be “robust”.