Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been widely condemned in the United States, yet that hasn’t dampened so far American business enthusiasm about China, whose government remains friendly with Moscow.
So believes Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council, a non-profit organization representing 260 companies doing business in China including GM, Honeywell, McDonald’s, Microsoft and the Carlyle Group. China’s support for Russia hasn’t extended into arms or lethal aid, and Beijing recognizes that it would be subject to US penalties if it were to violate US sanctions, Allen said in an interview from Washington, DC on Monday.
As a result, “most of our companies remain bullish,” he noted. “There’s a huge divide between perceptions on the ground in China and perceptions in the United States. On the ground in China, most country managers are: ‘Go, go, go!’ Within the US, there’s a much more sensitivity of the geopolitical complexity.”
Allen can track those US trade sensitives well after a long career in the US foreign service with postings in China, Japan and Taiwan, before he joined the US-China Business Council in 2018. Council members include Pfizer, Microsoft, GM, Honeywell and the Carlyle Group. Businesses are upbeat about China, the world’s No. 2 economy after the US, owing to its economic growth prospects and large consumer market.
In the same way that US companies are upbeat about business in China, Chinese counterparts would be happy to invest more in the US if there was an overall improvement in ties between the two sides. “I suspect a lot of Chinese companies would love to invest in the United States if they could figure out a safe way to do so,” he said.
Interview excerpts follow.
Flannery: What’s the impact of the of the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on American companies doing business in China?
Allen: After the sanctions were announced, there were a number of briefings by the US government to our group about how we are expected to comply with US law, no matter where we are located. We’re pleased that the Chinese government recognizes that is a requirement and that they have said that they don’t intend to violate sanctions. And so I don’t think that, at least until to date that, there is pressure on American companies by the Chinese government at all to violate those sanctions. Now, as time goes on that might become more difficult. But what we have seen is that the Chinese are compliant with the sanctions, because they recognize that they also would be subject to the penalties if they’re not.