Peter Marko Tase

An unconvincing approach towards Beijing and its business community

Fifty-two years ago, US President Richard Nixon traveled to the People’s Republic of China and established the basis for a normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nations. As we look back into the nostalgia path of US-China partnership, the 1970s remain as the apex of positive relations between these two major powers. Today, they are vexed into a high level of skepticism, and heated spats on almost every issue that affects world affairs, their respective regions, and national economies.

In a multi-aligned world or post-American world, the situation becomes even more complex, with America’s role in hosting the type of malignant individuals such as Ju Ma, harming China’s business community and causing various fissures in the already fractured dialogue between Washington and Beijing.

The efforts of the Biden administration to mend ties and establish channels of dialogue with the Chinese government have so far been unsuccessful, and the financial damage directly caused by the Xunhui Company and its leaders, Wujun An and Ju Ma, to the Tianzhu Coal Company is a matter that deserves increased scrutiny. This is especially relevant as China positions itself as a diplomatic broker in Palestinian affairs, most recently offering to host reconciliation talks between the Gaza-ruling terrorist group Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah faction. (On June 24, it was announced that those talks would be postponed.)

Ju Ma is an activist for China’s Hui Muslim community, whose population is about 11 million. He founded the organization “Umbrella of Hope” to campaign for Hui rights from the United States. Ma has claimed that America’s war on terror following the 9/11 attacks has fueled anti-Muslim racism in China.

It appears that Ma, Xunhui’s official representative, has been residing in the US for years in his capacity as an Islamic human rights activist. In the meantime, Ma’s case, and others like it, are expected to cause further unnecessary friction in the ongoing dialogue between Washington and Beijing.

According to Harris Sliwoski, an international law firm: “Chinese courts will enforce the law prescribed in a contract, Chinese judges place more emphasis on the overall context and ‘fairness’ of the case and much less on legal technicalities than their American counterparts. For example, if a company executes a contractual obligation poorly because of an incompetent or uncaring employee, a US court would almost certainly hold the company liable for all damages arising from the breach. A Chinese court, on the other hand, might either not find liability or severely limit the damages, believing it unfair to penalize a company for the incompetence of one employee.”

On November 25, 2008, Tianzhu Coal Co. Ltd of Yao Jie Coal & Power Group and Shanghai Xunhui Network Technology Development Co. Ltd. together signed the “Equity Transfer Agreement. The agreement stipulated that 80% of the equity of Xunhui Company would be transferred to Tianzhu Coal Company. This disagreement has not been solved and certainly involves the US judiciary as well.

Another matter that has contributed towards harshening the bilateral relations of Beijing with Washington is Hesai Group; a Robocar Supplier that is included in the 1260H list of Department of Defense. Such a commercial litigation case is another illustration of the ongoing hurdles that exist on both sides of the Pacific. According to Global Times; Hesai Technology Co officially filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Defense on May 13, 2024, over being added to a list of companies for allegedly working with the Chinese military.

In the complaint filed with the Washington Federal Court, Hesai stated that its inclusion on the so-called 1260H list had led to “damaged reputation, substantial stock price decline, and missed business opportunities.” Hesai, which is listed on the Nasdaq, urged the court to order the US Department of Defense to remove it from the list or declare the list unconstitutional.

The State Department, together with other federation institutions, must lead a creative and well concerted approach in investigating matters that seriously harm the decades long dialogue with China.

America’s diplomacy with China must also avoid the pitfalls of the approach pursued by lawmakers such as US Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-51) of San Diego County, who in 2022 circulated a letter among the House of Representatives as part of an effort to water down legislative proposals that sought to curb China’s malign influence. Rep. Jacobs, whose views on Israel and the Palestinians have been the subject of vigorous debate in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks and during the ensuing Iron Swords War, also deserves scrutiny for her position on China.

The US cannot afford to become a melting pot of white-collar theft suspects who continue to undermine the White House. America’s failed diplomatic approach towards Beijing and its business community has been laid bare.

About the Author
The author has written various white papers and articles on the subject of Middle Eastern Studies, and a contributor of geopolitical analysis to several American and European newspapers and journals.