CIIE shows China is open for business
Tom Fowdy

Editor's Note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain, and the United States. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

This week sees Shanghai host the China International Import Expo. Taking place at the city's National Exhibition and Convention Center, U.S. companies have not been put off by trade tensions with over 192 businesses signing up, an increase from last year's 174. Many include Fortune 500 firms. Chinese President Xi Jinping is also expected to attend the expo and give a speech.

The exhibition is a clear demonstration that China is open for business, with Beijing committed to opening up the country to more foreign investment and creating a favorable environment for businesses.

Despite trade disputes and talks of "decoupling," China's lucrative domestic market continues to be a priority for foreign firms who see nothing but opportunities. With a trade deal potentially within reach, U.S.-China business will undoubtedly continue to thrive in the long run.

Owing to the fallout from trade frictions with Washington, today's media is full of negativity and sensationalism concerning business in China. Not only are the country's economic and commercial prospects painted in lopsided pessimistic terms, it is also repeatedly stated that U.S. companies are leaving the country in droves, a falsehood also perpetuated by the Trump administration.

Some have claimed that the United States aims to "decouple" itself from China, ending all economic engagement between the two countries.

However, this reality could not be further from the truth. Despite disruptions and challenges posed by trade tensions, American businesses continue to see opportunities in China. This is why the expo matters, because it demonstrates China's massive and unmatched potential.

With the country's domestic consumer base far exceeding that of the United States, the gains of investing in China continue to be overwhelming, a prospect that is only set to increase over time as the country develops. The rhetoric of Washington is proving, in no way, a deterrent to eager investors.

A U.S. Soybean Export Council booth at last year's China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, November 5, 2018. /VCG Photo

A U.S. Soybean Export Council booth at last year's China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, November 5, 2018. /VCG Photo

China recognizes this sentiment. With Xi attending the expo, China is sending out a message to the U.S. and the world that the country is open, and will open further to foreign businesses.

While the Trump administration opts for tariffs, restricting and protectionism, China endeavors to broaden the scope of its markets to direct investment and send a positive message for trade. With French President Emmanuel Macron also attending the event, seeking greater market access for EU firms, the expo also delivers a vision for growing Europe-China ties.

In addition, with the United States and China closing in on a "phase-one trade deal" despite the cancellation of the APEC summit in Chile, the expo offers an optimistic message for talks and a willingness to make progress.

As is already the case above for individual companies, China wants to send U.S. officials a signal that the country is willing to make the reforms and market changes which they outlined in their demands.

In turn, it also reminds Washington that by cutting economic ties with China and failing to reach a deal, both sides have much to lose.

An event like this highlights not only the potential, but the lasting and inevitable significance of U.S.-China business ties. Despite the wishes of some politicians, China will remain a priority for many American companies and in turn, this event illustrates how out of touch the U.S. political class is with the wider business community.

In this case, there is one more message the expo is sending out: Contrary to all the lies, falsehoods and distortions, America ultimately benefits above everything else through business with China. The vast opportunities in China are being firmly set out in Shanghai, and no trade war can change that.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at