Friday February 21, 2020


April 2, 2012

U.S. officials say that they plan to bring a delegation of high-tech companies to Shanghai for discussions with potential Chinese customers in May. In a speech given to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai near the end of March, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke made the announcement during a discussion on U.S. export controls. According to Locke, the U.S. is now “in the midst of a major reform and simplification that will enable more hi-tech goods to be exported to China.” He also announced that 46 of the 141 high-tech items requested by China had been approved by the U.S. for export, noting that additional details were needed from China in order to determine whether the remaining items could be exported and under what conditions.

In response to Locke’s announcement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a March 21 press briefing, “We welcome this move, as mutual benefit is the essence of Sino-US economic and trade relations. We hope to strengthen mutual investment for a sustainable, stable and healthy development of bilateral trade links.” Some leading Chinese academics and other branches of the Chinese government; however, have espoused more skepticism and suggested Locke’s announcement is unlikely to lead to any major breakthroughs with regard to expanding trade in high-tech exports. In his speech Locke also made a case for U.S.-bound Chinese investment, underscoring recent efforts by the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service to dispel notions among Chinese investors that the United States is an unfriendly place for Chinese investment.

In the bilateral relationship, high-technology exports have always come up as a recurring issue. Chinese vice president Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials have on many occasions called for the U.S. to take “substantive steps” toward easing restrictions on its high-technology exports to China. The American private sector has also sensed the possibilities that exist in expanding trade in high-technology exports. A 2009 study issued by the U.S. Commerce Department estimated lost sales from export controls at over a billion dollars. There also exists an export compliance working group of the American Chamber of Commerce, which has lobbied for increasing civilian high-tech trade and is believed to have had a role in bringing about changes to the U.S. export control regime. Although the exports in question typically have commercial applications, critics have routinely cited their “dual-use” nature. Companies have been reluctant to be associated with activities seen as potentially compromising national security.

For further information on U.S. easing of high-tech export controls, please see the following news sources and commentary:


Wall Street Journal “U.S. Weighs Easing Curbs on Chinese Access to High Tech”

Wall Street Journal – “U.S. Companies Mum on China High Tech Export Opportunity”

China Daily – “Beijing Welcomes US Move on Exports”

Xinhua – “China Welcomes U.S. Efforts to Expand High-Tech Trade”


For Chinese commentary on U.S. easing of high-tech export controls, please see the following news sources:


Xinhua 新华 – “美会放宽对华出口么?

Xinhua 新华 – “美为售华敏感产品‘松绑’将带来数亿美元进口”

Compiled and edited by Katie Xiao.