The United States intends to open a commercial office in Peking to help American companies doing business with China, White House officials revealed to a group of about 50 corporate leaders here yesterday.
A proposal for such an office -- similar to one next to the American Embassy in Moscow -- will be made to Vice Chairman Teng Hsiao-ping when he visits Washington later this month. Officials anticipate his approval.
The commercial office would help American business executives with language problems, offer aid in getting papers typed or copied, and help them in communicating back home.
But a potentially more serious problem, one that could interfere with expansion of high-technology exports, is Chinese refusal so far to comply with U.S. requirements for export licenses.
The meeting yesterday, in the White House theater, was the second such session since announcement that the U.S. and the People's Republic of China would resume normal relations Jan. 1.
It was led by presidential assistant Anne Wexler, with specific reports by Assistant Secretary of State Roger Sullivan and Commerce Department officials Stanley Marcus and Kempton Jenkins. The officials stressed that great new trade opportunities should be opening up with the PRC without interfering with established relationships with Taiwan.
The sessions with businessmen are part of the Carter administration's effort to explain to various important private-sector groups what went into the decision to normalize relations with the PRC.
They stressed that, in the next seven years, China plans to spend $85 to $100 billion to modernize its economy. American companies are the "most qualified" to supply many of the things China needs, Jenkins told the group.
As a further help to American industry in penetrating the Chinese market, Commerce Secretary Juanita Kreps is considering asking a small group of business leaders to join her on her official visit to China some time in April. They might accompany her, or meet in Peking. Kreps' mission will follow the first official visit following normalization, by Treasury Secretary W. Michael Blumenthal for a week beginning Feb. 24.
Carter administration leaders acknowledged at yesterday's session that many problems remain to be solved, including the extension of credit, and the present denial of most favored nation (MFN) status to China and other countries that unduly restrict their citizens' right to emigrate. That preclusion is part of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the 1974 Trade Act.
Business officials told the government officials that they are anxious to export goods to China, but feel that the export licensing system of the Department of Commerce is cumbersome and must be expedited.
In a telephone interview, Marcus explained that China consistently has balked at complying with U.S. licensing requirements set up for national security reasons. The U.S. requires that the importer give adequate assurance that the end use of the product will be what it is supposed to be and allow "visitation rights" for a number of years to check on the actual use.
The Soviet Union, on the other hand, has been willing to comply with these requirements when buying manufactured goods which are licensed, Marcus said.