US Firms Say China Has Become ‘Uninvestable,’ Commerce Secretary Says

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says American companies have complained to her that China has become “uninvestable.”
US Firms Say China Has Become ‘Uninvestable,’ Commerce Secretary Says
An employee working on a car assembly line at a Dongfeng factory in Wuhan in China's central Hubei Province on Sept. 14, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says American companies have complained to her that China has become “uninvestable” as the level of risk associated with doing business there has spiked amid factors such as changes to counterespionage laws and raids on foreign firms.

Ms. Raimondo made the remarks on Aug. 29 while on a train heading to Shanghai from Beijing during an official visit to China.

“Increasingly, I hear from American business that China is uninvestible because it’s become too risky,” she said.

The commerce secretary is in China to bolster economic ties amid concerns that political tensions between the two countries could deteriorate further and lead to open hostilities.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang (R) speaks with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Aug. 29, 2023. (Andy Wong / AFP via Getty Images)
Chinese Premier Li Qiang (R) speaks with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Aug. 29, 2023. (Andy Wong / AFP via Getty Images)

‘Raids on Businesses’

U.S. companies doing business in China face a host of new challenges, Ms. Raimondo said, including “exorbitant fines without any explanation” and “revisions to the counterespionage law, which are unclear and sending shockwaves through the U.S. community.”

She noted that “raids on businesses” are among the issues facing U.S. firms in China, with the problems collectively representing “a whole new level of challenge” that needs to be addressed.

One example of seemingly arbitrary crackdowns that U.S. companies face in China was the regime’s recent ban on chipmaker Micron Technology’s semiconductor sales to key Chinese domestic industries.

Ms. Raimondo cited the Micron ban in her remarks to reporters, saying there had been no explanation about the move and the restrictions came about amid “limited due process.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Ms. Raimondo’s statements make clear that commerce is a key area of friction between China and the United States, including tit-for-tat export controls.

Bilateral ties between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated this year over a range of issues, including aggressive Chinese military posturing related to Taiwan and allegations of spying.

In April, Washington announced new restrictions on exports to China to keep semiconductors and other technology away from Beijing’s military. China later announced export controls on two strategic metals, a move widely interpreted as retaliatory.

In an apparent bid to mend frayed ties, Ms. Raimondo told reporters at a press conference in Beijing that the United States and China have agreed to set up a working group on trade and investment issues, including export controls.

The decision to set up the working group was criticized by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), who called it “dangerous.”

“The Biden administration’s decision to join forces with the Chinese Communist Party to establish a working group on export controls and commercial issues with CCP officials is at best naive, but also dangerous,” Mr. McCaul said in a statement.

“The CCP steals U.S. intellectual property and hacks the emails of senior government officials—including Secretary Raimondo. The administration must stop treating the CCP as anything other than an adversary who will stop at nothing to harm our national security and spread its malign authoritarianism around the globe.”

Michael Hart, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, downplayed Mr. McCaul’s remarks as a “political take on the issue,” during an interview on CNBC.

“There is nothing more important than continued trade” from the perspective of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, Mr. Hart said, noting that a number of U.S. businesses have told him that China remains an important market for them.

He noted that Ms. Raimondo holds both “the carrot and the stick” since she’s in charge of trade and also export controls, “so the Chinese really want to talk to her.”


Ms. Raimondo is the fourth senior U.S. official to travel to China in 10 weeks.

In August, she met with several high-ranking Chinese officials before talking to Premier Li Qiang and delivering a message about the Biden administration not wanting to break trade ties.

“I have had a very productive visit so far,” Ms. Raimondo told Mr. Li ahead of closed-door sessions. “President Biden asked me to come here to convey a message that we do not seek to decouple; we seek to maintain our $700 billion commercial relationship with China.”

Mr. Li said economic and trade relations are crucial for the stability of U.S.–China ties. But he hopes Washington “can work in the same direction with China” and develop the bilateral ties with “more sincerity and concrete actions.”

Ms. Raimondo also sat down on Aug. 29 with Vice Premier He Lifeng, a close ally of Chinese leader Xi Jinping who oversees the country’s economy.

“While we will never compromise in protecting our national security, I want to be clear that we will never seek to decouple or hold China’s economy back,” Ms. Raimondo said at the start of the meeting.

Mr. He raised concerns about the U.S. tariffs, export controls, and investment restrictions, according to the readout from China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Separately, senior officials from Beijing and Washington were scheduled to have the first “information exchange” on export controls on Aug. 29.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order this month to restrict investment in China’s sensitive technologies, including quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and semiconductors sectors.

The move followed a sweeping set of semiconductor export controls on China unveiled by President Biden in October 2022.

The Chinese regime has tightened its own export controls. As of Aug. 1, gallium and germanium—two rare metals critical to the manufacturing of semiconductors—are subject to export restrictions, the Ministry of Commerce announced in July, citing the need to protect national security.

Dorothy Li and Reuters contributed to this report.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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