A key highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum held in San Francisco this week was, perhaps, the huge standing ovation to Chinese president Xi Jinping by American business executives.
The American businessmen did so as a response to a speech by the Chinese leader, with Xi stating that China is always ready and willing to be a partner and friend of the US. He extended an invite to “friends from business communities across the world to invest and deepen your footprint in China,”
His speech came a few hours after he held extensive talks with US President Joe Biden, where the two leaders made commitments to stabilize rocky relations between the two nations and, most importantly, draw on each other’s strengths.
This is a step in the right direction, especially, for the reason that the duo can exert positive influence on global affairs.
Trying to understand why the business executives acted the way they did, one might imagine, and rightly so, that for them, China represents a massive market. Improved relations would then mean expanded access to China’s consumer base, which can significantly benefit US companies seeking to sell products and services in the Chinese market.
Indeed, China’s rapid economic growth presents significant opportunities for American companies to expand their operations, increase profits, and access new business opportunities in various sectors.
At the same time, improved relations between Beijing and Washington will without a doubt lead to the reduction of trade barriers, tariffs, and regulatory hurdles, that have shaped debate over the last couple of years, creating a more favorable business environment for American companies operating in China and vice versa.
The above motivations notwithstanding, there are several reasons why anyone would favour a steadier, friendlier relationship between the two nations.
Besides politics, this gesture is significant in that it demonstrates that the American people just like their Chinese counterparts are tired of a confrontational relationship.
Undeniably, their collaboration is crucial for global economic stability. The US-China cooperation can easily address issues such as trade imbalances, currency issues, and promote fair competition in the global market.
In addition, their co-action in trade and investment can open up new markets, create bigger opportunities for businesses, and stimulate economic growth, benefiting the global economy in the true spirit of building a community with a shared future.
As well, China and US can help stabilize financial markets which have proved to be influenced by the relationship between the two economic powers. Their collaboration can improve market confidence and investor sentiments.
Over and above business and profits, the restoration of their relationship is crucial in addressing the challenges posed by such complex issues as climate change, and pandemics, and other issues that cooperation of major powers is truly needed. If the two countries resolve to work together, more effective solutions to such intricate issues can be easily attained compared to when working at cross purposes.
Closely tied to this is the issue of peace and security. It will be remembered that the worsening of their relations forced the two countries to champion own initiatives to promote global peace and security agenda. China and US are influential in this regard. Their working together can, therefore, help mitigate regional conflicts, and foster stability in volatile or conflict-prone areas.
Additionally, their cooperation can also lead to more effective arms control agreements.
The two countries are also known market leaders in development of new technologies. China-US joint efforts in research, innovation, and technological advancements will without a doubt fast-track progress and lead to breakthroughs in various fields, benefitting not just the two countries, but other nations across the globe.
Over and above this, the strengthening of relations between the two countries will encourage cultural and educational exchanges that will foster mutual understanding, reduce misunderstandings, and promote even greater people-to-people connections, contributing to a more harmonious relationship between people.
The restoration and strengthening of relations between China and the US also takes away the frequent tensions and conflicts that have adverse effects on developing countries.
The tensions between the two powers have proved unhelpful to developing countries in the past, especially with the pressure mounting on them to align with either Beijing or Washington in geopolitical issues, and this has had a major impact on diplomatic relations and strategic partnerships.
As mentioned earlier in this article, China and the US are major players in advancements in technology and innovation. As such, developing countries can benefit from knowledge-sharing, technological transfer, and advancements in various sectors, contributing to their own technological growth.
And as reiterated by President Xi Jinping during the just-concluded APEC Summit, collaborative efforts that prioritize diplomacy, multilateralism, and dialogue as opposed to antagonism and confrontation, are crucial to maintaining a stable and conducive global environment for the development of all nations.
It’s significant that Xi indicated that China is open and committed to applying a new development philosophy with a focus on achieving innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all.
“We remain committed to pursuing development with our doors open. We will unswervingly advance high-standard opening up and further expand market access. China has announced the removal of all restrictive measures on foreign investment,” he said
So, while their relationship has faced complexities and challenges, a good working relationship between China and the US has the potential to positively impact major global affairs to the joy of many.
I, therefore, believe the American business community applauded President Xi out of recognition of the significant economic and strategic advantages that come with improved relations between China and the US, as it, among other things, positively impacts their ability to conduct business, innovate, and compete in the global market.
Eric Biegon is a Multimedia Journalist working with Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.