Nicholas Platt, the long-time US diplomat who helped engineer the restoration of American ties with Beijing, said on Thursday that economic ties would keep the relationship intact despite hard-line policies enacted under Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Platt, who accompanied Richard Nixon on the 1972 presidential trip that led to Washington's official diplomatic recognition of China and then set up the first US diplomatic outpost there since 1949, said that the people and organisations driving commerce will prevail over political ideology.
Nicholas Platt, shown in 2014, said that the US and Chinese business communities would prevail over geopolitical disputes. Photo: Xinhua alt=Nicholas Platt, shown in 2014, said that the US and Chinese business communities would prevail over geopolitical disputes. Photo: Xinhua>
"Mister Xi has ramped up the rhetoric and made us all quite uncomfortable, but the people who have a legitimate reason, operational reasons, can be in touch with their Chinese counterparts [and] are simply doing it," Platt, the president emeritus of the Asia Society, said in a discussion organised by the New York-based China Institute.
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"Can you imagine Chinese and Americans not talking to each other today about - you know - the supply chain and about the shortages and so on and so forth?" he asked. "The idea of decoupling is ridiculous and undoable."
Platt's remarks came amid a wave of new proposed or enacted US and Chinese laws and executive actions that make business as usual between the two countries more difficult.
Last month, for example, Congress passed the Uygur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which could disrupt US supply chains running through China by requiring importers to prove their goods are not made with forced labour in the country's Xinjiang region.
The bill was signed into law by US President Joe Biden, who has largely continued to pursue the hard-line agenda against Beijing that his predecessor Donald Trump embarked on, citing national security and human rights concerns.
For its part, Beijing passed a law empowering authorities there to seize assets from entities that institute sanctions against China and hold businesses that refuse to help Beijing carry out countermeasures liable.
That move was in response to several rounds of sanctions that Washington imposed on Chinese and Hong Kong officials for "serious human rights abuses" in Xinjiang and for alleged efforts to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy.
Platt's appeal follows a similar Chinese message made just a day earlier.
Huang Ping, who was appointed China's consul-general in New York in 2018, told the China-US Business Alliance in a video address on Wednesday that he could "always count on the business-community support" to maintain economic and trade links.
Huang Ping, the Chinese consul-general in New York, has made a similar appeal to the business community. Photo: SCMP alt=Huang Ping, the Chinese consul-general in New York, has made a similar appeal to the business community. Photo: SCMP>
But further challenges to that vision may be on the way to Biden's desk, including a bill introduced this week by Marco Rubio of Florida and 15 other Republican senators that would punish Chinese officials for preventing an investigation into whether the Covid-19 pandemic could be tied to an infectious disease laboratory in Wuhan.
In May, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman described such calls as attacks on China, saying the next investigation should instead look at the US.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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