China welcomes San Francisco mayor’s visit, as US businesses, local officials defy Washington’s decoupling move

China US Photo:VCG

China US Photo:VCG

China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday extended a warm welcome to San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who is expected to visit China in the coming days, saying that China always supports and encourages exchanges between all walks of life from the two countries. 

The San Francisco mayor’s trip comes as US local governments and business communities continue to seek better ties with China, defying an attempt by politicians in Washington to decouple the world’s two biggest economies. Visits by US local officials and business executives further demonstrate the win-win nature of bilateral economic ties, analysts said, while stressing the need to firmly counter Washington’s crackdowns. 

Commenting on Breed’s upcoming visit to China at a regular press briefing on Monday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that the Chinese side welcomes Mayor Breed’s visit and hopes that this visit will achieve positive results and further promote San Francisco’s cooperation with China and China-US local exchanges.

“China has always supported and encouraged people from all walks of life in the two countries to have more exchanges and dialogue, constantly build consensus, enhance trust, eliminate interference, deepen cooperation, and bring more tangible benefits to the people of the two countries,” Wang said.

Breed will visit China from April 13 to April 21, with stops in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, according to the San Francisco Standard, a local news outlet. 

“I am honored to be invited to travel to China and meet with leaders in business, innovation and government,” Breed was quoted by the news outlet as saying, “to cultivate economic opportunities and strengthen ties between San Francisco and cities across the region.”

Breed’s visit comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom visited several cities in China in October 2023, which was described by experts as a resounding success that could inspire other US states in promoting sub-national exchanges. 

A host of top US business executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon, visited China last week as part of a whirlwind week for China’s economic diplomacy.

“Recently, China and the US have maintained positive interactions, which is a very welcome trend,” Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that US local officials’ visits to China demonstrate the win-win nature of China-US economic and trade ties. 

“The San Francisco mayor’s visit shows that she believes that strengthening China-US economic and trade cooperation is beneficial to local development, and it also shows that China-US economic cooperation is win-win,” Gao said.

China is crucial for San Francisco’s economy, particularly its tourism industry. In 2024, about 385,000 visitors from China are expected to visit the city, spending an estimated $1.1 billion, which makes China the biggest source of overseas visitors and spending, according to the San Francisco Standard, which cited official figures. 

Breed’s trip will likely focus on practical cooperation in areas such as tourism, said Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade. “The sister city mechanism, provincial and state cooperation mechanisms and other exchange mechanisms between China and the US have all been promoting China-US economic and trade cooperation on different levels,” Li told the Global Times on Monday. 

However, analysts also warned of further attempts by the US federal government to undermine China-US economic and trade ties through crackdowns on businesses and other areas. 

“We need to resolutely oppose and guard against restrictions and other maneuvers by the US against China,” Gao said, noting that while local US governments tend to value economic ties, US federal officials, out of consideration for elections, often resort to political manipulation in bilateral ties. 

While Chinese and US officials have also stepped up interactions this year, Washington continues to crack down on Chinese businesses and industries. 

In one recent example, US officials have ratcheted up rhetoric against Chinese new-energy vehicles (NEVs), even as Washington doled out discriminatory subsidies for US-made NEVs. 

China responded by lodging a WTO dispute about this move.