by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- A gala evening was held Wednesday at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles, bringing together U.S.-China business leaders to exchange viewpoints and celebrate the achievements they have made.
The mixed Chinese and American capacity crowd gathered at the Biltmore Hotel while a fresh round of high-level economic and trade talks are going on in Washington between China and the United States.
The festive and informative event was hosted by the China General Chamber of Commerce-Los Angeles (CGCC-Los Angeles), a platform designed to promote communication and collaboration between U.S. and Chinese businesses.
Recognized as the largest and most influential non-profit organization representing Chinese enterprises in the United States, 1,500 CGCC member companies have cumulatively invested over 120 billion U.S. dollars and indirectly employed over 1 million people throughout the United States.
CGCC-Los Angeles Chairman Zhang Xuming told Xinhua that the robust trade and business relationships between the United States and Chinese businesses go both ways.
"The United States is an important market for Chinese investment and has also played a significant role in Chinese enterprises' global expansion strategy," he said.
He also pointed out that U.S.-based Chinese businesses and investments help create job opportunities for U.S. citizens and contribute handsomely to local economy.
Zhang Ping, Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles, took the podium to speak about the China-U.S. relations.
"Despite various ups and downs ... the relationship has achieved historic progress," he said.
Regarding the recent rounds of bilateral talks on economic and trade frictions, he said, "positive progress has been achieved with principle consensus reached on major issues."
Sharing his optimism about the prospect of the talks, he said, "Our economies are so closely interconnected and trade war produces no winners."
The only way out for both sides is through constructive dialogue and consultation, he added.
The next keynote speaker, David Firestein, head of George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations and executive director of the China Public Policy Center in the University of Texas at Austin, drew shouts of excitement when he addressed the guests in impeccable Mandarin.
As a highly-regarded expert on China and a powerful advocate for strong U.S.-China relations, Firestein concurred with Chinese Consul General in Los Angeles on the importance of a good U.S.-China relationship.
"Over long term, U.S. and China need each other. There is not a realistic way to decouple our two countries' economic interests," he said.
"It's a difficult time, but even so, look at data: with the exception of Chinese investment into the United States, which has dropped, the other data is comparable to before, if not higher. We're trading more now than in previous years," he said on a positive note.
Later in an interview, Firestein told Xinhua that the United States would benefit more from a more surgical approach to trade issues than "the use of tariffs to ostensibly punish China without recognizing that you are punishing American businesses and American consumers to the same degree or far greater when using such a blunt instrument."
"It effectively generates a tax increase on the American people," he explained, "which is why 95 percent of the U.S. business community opposed the tariffs."
"The 'Opening Up' reform process in China has generated a huge amount of prosperity for China and the world," he said.
"American companies are extraordinarily interested in the China market. It's an economic powerhouse that no company, big, medium or small in any country that seeks prosperity can ignore. They want to sell their goods and services in China, the same way China sells its goods and services in the United States and in many markets around the world," he said.
He concluded with the assessment that the U.S.-China relationship is "too big to fail."
As the Los Angeles chapter of the CGCC-USA, CGCC-Los Angeles brings together hundreds of Chinese enterprises and partners investing and conducting business in the region.
Based on CGCC annual survey, California is the number one destination for Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States. Chinese companies have made 21 billion dollars of investment since 2000, directly hiring over 16,000 local employees.