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American businesses to engage in China’s Belt and Road Initiative:White House advisor
Photo: scmp.com
 
American companies are ready to be committed to the Belt and Road Initiative, said White House advisor Matt Pottinger at China’s Belt and Road summit in Beijing in Sunday afternoon. 
 
Matt Pottinger, who led the US delegation to the summit which was kicked off during the weekend, also indicated that the US Embassy in Beijing and American companies would constitute a special task group to work as liaison.    
 
Pottinger added that the United States would harness its experience from developing infrastructure globally while noting the experiences gained by private companies would be enlightening.    
     
The initiative is expected to bridge the ‘infrastructure gap’. Pottinger noted at a panel themed expediting connections through developing infrastructure that the US identified with China’s proposal that through updating infrastructure qualities, economies would be connected. 
 
The US participation drew widespread attention as the decision to attend the forum was taken just days before, as part of a trade deal signed between the two countries.   
  
“Although there is no head of state, the US participation has been informative,” some reports said, appreciating the participation of the US.      
  
Based on a previous New York Times report, the Trump administration had originally planned to assign Eric Branstad, a Department of Commerce official and the son of Terry Branstad, who is about to be designated as the US Ambassador to China. 
 
Later, Trump changed his idea and assigned his adviser Matt Pottinger, which is seen as a sign that the Trump administration would ramp up its engagement with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
 
Pottinger has worked as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal and was based in China for seven years. He had covered stories related to SARS, resources and environment and anti-corruption campaign. He was even roughed up by a Chinese state security guard while investigating a corporate corruption case a dozen years ago. He’s long been regarded as a China hawk because of some public rhetoric against Beijing.  
  
He is known to have influence on Trump’s China policy. Before Trump and Xi met this April, Pottinger confirmed One China policy during a press meeting which is believed to be another goodwill gesture by the US government. It was reported he was also present at the two leader’s April meeting in Florida. 
 
A Wall Street Journal editorial dated May 10 said the US government may be unlikely to join any practical projects of the initiative but American businesses already partake in. 
  
General Electric Company is a good example. In 2015, the American company decided to engage with the Belt and Road construction in 2015. Now, its order has amounted to over $1 billion in Pakistan, compared with less than $0.1 billion five years ago. 
 
Honeywell International, an American company specializing in clean energy and infrastructure construction set up over 20 branches in Belt and Road countries with over 3200 staff based locally. 
   
American companies at the current stage are limiting their involvement in exporting equipment, while staying out of any capital investment activities.  
 
Chinese companies investing in the US infrastructure like the CRRC Corporation have proved the business to be promising. Apparently, American companies are still hesitating and the attitude was reflected by the US delegation. 
  
“I have been in investment banking for many years. And based on my experiences as the CEO of Goldman Sachs, it is not easy to develop and build infrastructure anywhere and the returns are usually not good enough also,” said Henry Paulson, the former US Treasury Secretary who is one member of Pottinger’s delegation. 

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