China's ambassador to the U.S. warned against the potential risks of trying to cut the country off, using a visit to the Detroit auto show to highlight the "intertwined" interests of the world's two biggest economies.
"To decouple with China means to disconnect from the world's largest market as well as the biggest opportunity," Qin Gang said in an interview at the auto show Wednesday. The interests of both nations are "intertwined," he said, pointing out that General Motors' latest models are "designed, developed, produced and to be sold" in China, while more China-built cars are being exported to the rest of the world.
Trade and political tensions between China and the U.S. will "for sure" impact industry collaboration in the short term, Qin said. "But the industry chain has been relatively well established over past years, and there would be no winner if anybody wanted to intervene or even destroy" that, he added.
President Joe Biden, who attended the show earlier in the day, attributed the electric transformation sweeping the U.S. auto market to American innovation. "It used to be to buy an electric car, you had to make all sorts of compromises," Biden said after touring the show. "Thanks to American ingenuity, American engineers, American autoworkers, it's all changing."
Qin, however, stressed the importance of global coordination. "The electric vehicle value chain, or specifically the supply chain, is very globalized," he said, adding all players will continue to "work in accordance with economic laws."
China and the US are sparring on several trade fronts. The Biden administration earlier this month said it will allow Trump-era tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports to continue while it reviews the need for the duties. The U.S. has also placed export curbs on advanced computer chips to China and is seeking to reduce reliance on Chinese materials in the EV supply chain, particularly batteries.
Formally known as the North American International Auto Show, Detroit was once a must for automakers on the global circuit, drawing top CEOs and dozens of major brands.
But its star has dimmed in recent years amid competition from events like CES in Las Vegas, as well as a three-year hiatus during the pandemic. The industry's biggest names when it comes to EVs, including Tesla, are absent this year, and no Chinese automaker has brought its products to the stage. In the meantime, China's BYD Co. and Great Wall Motor Co. have both announced plans to attend this year's Paris Motor Show in October.