In Chengdu: Chinese authorities closed the American Chamber of Commerce

Status: 01.09.2021 1:46 p.m.

The authorities of the People’s Republic of China closed a branch of the American Chamber of Commerce in southern China – without justification. This move comes at a time of tense relations between countries.

Written by Stephen Wurzel, ARD-Studio Shanghai

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in the southern Chinese city of Chengdu was forced to halt its operations on the instructions of the authorities. The AmCham team had only 48 hours to close the branch, according to the South China Morning Post. The acting chief, Benjamin Wang, told the Hong Kong Daily that he was working with local authorities to find a solution. But it is doubtful whether the American Chamber of Commerce branch will be able to reopen soon.

A branch that has existed since the 1990s

The American Chamber of Commerce in Chengdu has represented the interests of the American economy in southern China since the mid-1990s. Recently, there were about 300 corporate members in the chamber. The office now appears to be closed because authorities in Chengdu are implementing a rule that has been in place for many years for the first time: according to this, states are only allowed to operate one official branch of the Chamber of Commerce of China. In the case of the American Chamber of Commerce, this is registered in the capital, Beijing.

Collateral damage to strained relationships?

Most observers also see clear political reasons for the closure. This may also increase pressure on the previously independent American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. This was said by a German business representative ARD– The radio said that the closure of the American Chamber of Commerce office in Chengdu is a kind of collateral damage in the very tense relationship between China and the United States.

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The German Chamber of Commerce also has several branches in China. However, it was created differently from the American Chamber of Commerce: unlike the American Chamber of Commerce, the German Chamber of Commerce has only one headquarters. It also separates lobbyists and commercial representation on the one hand and commercial offerings on the other.

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