China-U.S. economic, trade cooperation in the eyes of Shanghai entrepreneur

(Xinhua) 16:21, February 27, 2022

SHANGHAI, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Tong Jisheng beams with pride as he reminisces how a woolen blanket gifted to visitors from the United States in 1972 created a business boom for the Shanghai-based manufacturer.

The blanket, 1.55 meters wide and 2.3 meters long, featured traditional Chinese auspicious flower patterns including peony and chrysanthemum. The blankets were given to the U.S. delegation as a gift during the historic visit of then U.S. President Richard Nixon to China.

It became well-known soon afterward and won the hearts of young consumers at that time, Tong, chairman of Shanghai-based Orient International (Holding) Co., Ltd. (OIH), recalled.

The blanket heralded the start of the manufacturer's trade with the United States and 50 years on, OIH, the parent company of the manufacturer, has seen its annual trade volume with the United States reaching some 10 billion yuan (about 1.58 billion U.S. dollars) in recent years with the expansion of business.

In 1998, a subsidiary of OIH set up a joint venture with an American company in Shanghai to produce carpets used in automotive vehicles. Thanks to the continuous and rapid development of China's automobile industry, the joint venture has established six factories in China successively.

In 2017, the two parties established a global joint venture in Detroit that grew into a major supplier of automotive soft decoration, with nearly 20 factories and four R&D centers across the world.

"It is worth mentioning that since the outbreak of COVID-19, our factories in North America have used surplus production capacity to produce masks for their own use or donate them to local community hospitals and schools, further strengthening the understanding and trust between the two sides of the joint venture," Tong said.

The first China International Import Expo held in 2018 also created new opportunities for OIH to promote trade with the United States amid the continuous opening of the Chinese market and the accelerated unleashing of consumption potential.

Currently, the United States is OIH's largest market. Medical equipment imported by OIH from the United States over the past four years is in use across China and the company's textile products have become best-sellers on mainstream American e-commerce platforms.

"Our cooperation with the United States began 50 years ago starting from a blanket," said Tong. "In my view, both Chinese and American people want to live a happy and stable life, to buy cheap and quality goods, and to share the wonderful history, culture and products of other countries."

Statistics from Shanghai Customs and the municipal commission of commerce show that in 2021, the import and export trade between Shanghai and the United States reached 508.1 billion yuan, an increase of 5.48 percent over the previous year.

During the period, 521 new U.S.-invested enterprises were established in Shanghai, with an actual foreign investment worth 613 million U.S. dollars.

The investment is not one-way. From 2012 to 2021, Shanghai-based companies registered 1,310 investment projects in the United States, with investment from the Chinese side totaling some 24.5 billion U.S. dollars.

This shows that market players in the world's two largest economies attach great importance to each other and value each other's market, said Chen Jing, president of the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

The China-U.S. trade and economic cooperation are highly complementary and enjoy broad prospects and potential for development, Chen said, adding that the extensive and in-depth economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, accumulated over the past 50 years, has spurred companies on both sides to form a community of common interests and become a ballast stone for bilateral ties.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Bianji)


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