Economy, Tourism and Global Affairs:
Ensuring continued collaboration between China and the US
Last April, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a visit to the United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump at his estate in Florida. The two officials then proceeded to have a follow-up call to continue discussions on current affairs and the plans of both countries to build on their existing relationship. Though the two nations have disputed over numerous issues such as human rights and democracy, both leaders acknowledged the need to work together to ensure the continuous collaboration to grow their economies, boost tourism, and support global development.
The first traceable account of economic exchange was in the 17th century when an American ship traversed across the ocean for the first exchange of American cotton for Chinese silk. This was soon succeeded by trade agreements and treaties increasing access of both nations to the other’s goods and lands. As the trade industry matured both economies, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping spearheaded growth in China by prioritizing industry and Science & Technology in an effort to transform post-Communist China.
Four centuries since the first exchange of goods, the U.S. is China’s top exporting country, accounting for approximately $411 Billion worth of imported goods. The reliance of U.S. companies on low-cost manufacturing and the dependence of China on a steady market will not only keep both markets stable but also keep the control of the global market within their hands. Beyond the exchange of goods, both nations have also invested heavily in each other’s infrastructure and bonds.
Though business and government transactions play a significant role in strengthening US-Chinese ties, both nations have also prospered through the growing tourism market
Of the 67.87 million visitors to China in 2016, 8.42 Million or approximately, 12% were Americans (third to citizens from Asia and Europe). This is a 63% increase from the 3.1 million visitors in 2015. Total income to China from total international tourism is said to be at least USD 65 Million.
Similarly, the U.S. also exceeded its previous records in terms of numbers of Chinese tourists who visited America. In 2015 (latest available statistics), the U.S. had 2.59 Million visitors from China. Though still a small percentage of the total number of visitors to the U.S. (approximately 77 Million), this small percentage of visitors are estimated to have poured in over $21 Billion into the American economy.
Both nations are expecting an increase in international tourism, predominantly as a result of the 2014 APEC meeting. This meeting resulted in both countries adopting domestic and international policies to accommodate the increase of visitors. Analysts attribute the increase particularly on the extension of visas – up to 10 years for non-immigrants and 5 for students.
Sightseeing remains to be the top reason forvisitorship followed by business travel and academic studies. Historically, the metropolitan cities of Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles remained at the top of mind of tourists and businesses alike. In recent forecasts, however, cities like Guangzhou, Nanjing, Las Vegas and New Orleans are taking the initiative to attract more tourists and businesses. When China held the first Nanjing (formerly known as Nanking) Memorial Day in 2014, for instance, they received almost 8 million visitors in 2014. The U.S., in turn, increased its direct flights to cities such as Houston, Seattle, and Boston.
As domestic affairs in both nations have found established their domestic footprint, China and the US have expanded their collaboration to beyond their borders.
In discussions of US – Chinese relations, analysts often refer back to the 1900s when the two nations disputed over a contrast of cultural and political views. Though criticism continues today, the two nations have today share the international stage for causes such as the United Nations Security Council and G-20. Beyond their economic interests, both countries have been working together to address international security and development.
For security, both China and the US have advocated for counter-terrorism citing their respective domestic disputes with Jihadist-claimed attacks – particularly those in Beijing and New York. In the recent meeting of President Trump and President Xi, they shared that collaboration would be imperative to address the pressing issues of nuclear and chemical weapons, particularly around the Korean peninsula
Amidst their local concerns, both nations have also committed to supporting developing nations through their participation and contributions to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Asian and African Development Banks.
Thus, whether for their citizens and local businesses or for the future of their allies and dependents, China and the US will most likely maintain if not grow their relationship.