SHANGHAI, China: A survey published this week by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai showed that political tensions and a slowing China's economy are reducing the confidence of U.S. businesses operating in the country.
The survey also showed that the number of companies optimistic about their five-year outlook has fallen to a record low.
According to the survey, even after the end of draconian COVID-19 restrictions, the percentage of surveyed U.S. firms optimistic about the five-year China business outlook fell to 52 percent, the lowest level of optimism reported since the AmCham Shanghai Annual China Business Report was first introduced in 1999.
AmCham Shanghai Chairman Sean Stein said, "Frankly, if there was one thing that surprised me about the survey this year, it was that number. By the time we did this year's survey, a lot of the illusions had fallen away that we would see a sustained rebound in economic growth (post-COVID)."
Tensions between major world powers remained a concern for many companies, with U.S.-China tensions cited as a top business challenge by 60 percent of the survey's 325 respondents, equal to the number who mentioned China's economic slowdown as a significant challenge.
While many respondents blamed Washington rather than Beijing when asked about the cause of tensions, concerns about the transparency of China's regulatory environment also rose, with one-third reporting that policies and regulations towards foreign companies had worsened in the past year.
U.S. firms have expressed concern about fines, raids, and other actions causing difficulties in doing business in China, while Beijing has criticized Washington's efforts to block China's access to advanced technology.
While visiting China in August, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that U.S. companies have complained to her that China has become "uninvestible."
AmCham's Stein said that the survey had been conducted before Raimondo's visit, and, since then, companies have reconsidered whether they had been "too pessimistic that there was not any way to get out of a constant downward slide in U.S.-China relations."