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California businesses optimistic about China's booming market
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California businesses optimistic about China's booming market

The 2024 China-California Business Forum was held May 20 at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, and the buzz on the packed floor was that California businesses are bullish on doing business with China.

More than 500 business owners and government officials from China and the United States attended the forum, with the goal of expanding business ties and subnational cooperation. China is California's largest trading partner and California has the largest presence of Chinese-invested companies among all states in the United States.

Established companies with billions in sales, like nutritional supplement giant, Herbal Life, to innovative pharmaceutical start-ups, like Phyteau, which is launching new therapeutics to give people control over their metabolism, blood sugar and weight, have one thing in common -- they all want a piece of China's booming market.

"You can't compete in today's global market without a significant presence in China," Bonn Macy, Co-Founder of Phyteau, told Xinhua. "And why would you want to miss out the biggest new market in the world?"

Troy Hicks, Chief Operating Officer of Herbalife, noted that "China's been a partner for us for a long time, and we continue to see China's market as a significant opportunity for Herbalife. It's probably one of our biggest and growth markets in the future."

"They have an aging population and a large middle class that are very interested in health and wellness," he told Xinhua, spurred on by the government's "Healthy China" initiative to promote health and nutrition at an earlier age.

Business and government consultant Jeff Leader also sees robust opportunity for mutual benefit between the United States and China.

He points out that California-made medical devices can help save lives in China or anywhere while California environmental remediation technologies can help clean up contaminated rivers, soil, and air.

"Longterm exposure to contaminated environments causes major health problems. So if California companies and technologies can help them solve those problems, it's a win-win on so many levels," he added.

Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to the California Governor and director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, told Xinhua that sub-nationals like California would play an instrumental role in future relations with China and that California was committed to maintaining mutually beneficial relations with China as a valued trading partner.

Secretary of California Government operations, Amy Tong, stressed, "We need to focus on culture, economics and mutual respect. This is the foundation to our shared relationship with China, which has endured since California's early statehood."

When asked about the issue of decoupling, Vlady Cornateanu, president of Sino-America Business Development Company in Beverly Hills, California, told Xinhua that, "Realistically, decoupling should not happen, cannot happen, and is a fantasy that will not happen! So it's a waste of time to even discuss it!"

Bobby Kotick, the chief executive officer of Activision Blizzard and previously Activision from 1991 to 2023, gave his China workforce rave reviews, "For almost two decades, we've had some of our most talented, productive, capable engineers and programmers working in a studio in Shanghai...every bit as capable as the very best talent that we have in the United States."

"It's an extraordinary, productive workforce that's incredibly motivated and excited to come to work every single day," he added, asserting that "there's just nothing but opportunity for growth and continued collaboration in China."

He made a moving request that "In this increasingly complex and uncertain world, our trade relationships with China should serve as a pillar of stability that should create opportunities for businesses, for workers and for consumers on both sides of the Pacific."

He encouraged everyone to avoid getting caught up in "the rhetoric of division and distrust" and instead find common ground and embrace the power of collaboration.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass described the relationship between LA and Chinese cities and provinces as "consequential."

China is the sixth largest source of foreign owned businesses in Los Angeles. Nearly 250 businesses from China have expanded to Los Angeles, creating jobs and economic opportunity. Over the last ten years, L.A. companies have exported more than 60 billion U.S. dollars in goods to China. China's ports are the most significant trading partners of the port of Los Angeles, according to Bass.

U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu pointed out that 1.5 million Californians are of Chinese descent, far more than any other state, which makes for many person-to-person relationships as well as economic or political ones.

She also stressed that over the years California has enjoyed substantial investments from China in various sectors including technological innovation that have created jobs, growth and opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.

Bob Hertzberg, the Former speaker of the California Legislature and the former majority leader of the California State Senate told Xinhua that "It is critical that we take the long view."

"When people stand and scream at each other, no matter if they are Democrats or Republicans, Chinese or Americans, it just doesn't work. You got to get in a room, figure out what your differences are, and find common ground."

Xinhualiu sha

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