AmCham Trying to Reopen in Southwest China After Abrupt Closure

An American chamber of commerce in the same Chinese city that saw a U.S. consulate closed amid tensions with the U.S. says it is working to restart operations after a sudden halt.

AmCham Southwest was cooperating with the local government “to solve the issue,” its chairman Benjamin Wang said via the WeChat social media app late Tuesday. 

The Chengdu-based organization that represents U.S. companies said in a message to members Monday that it would “stop its operations and will no longer carry out any activities in the name of the American Chamber of Commerce in Southwest China.” 

The group may have stopped work because of government rules that would permit a single AmCham in China, with the one in Beijing taking precedence, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. 

China maintains a tight grip on foreign and domestic non-governmental groups. That approach limits the scope of civil society, ensuring the ruling Communist Party’s preeminence in everything from fighting air pollution to opening libraries.

The government of President Xi Jinping frequently warns the public about “hostile foreign forces” which it says are trying to undermine the Communist Party and break up the nation of 1.4 billion people.

Chengdu was briefly at the center of geopolitical tensions last year when Beijing ordered the U.S. consulate in the city, the capital of Sichuan province, to close in response to Washington doing the same with China’s diplomatic facility in Houston.

The two consulates remain shuttered as tensions between the world’s two largest economies linger.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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