• U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo : Reuters)

The timing of the annual survey results from the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham Shanghai), which describes itself as the voice of American businesses in China, might have been a welcome announcement for parties on both sides of the Pacific, as the official report was launched on Wednesday.

Like Us on Facebook

Conducted in partnership with Control Risks, a global risk consultancy, the survey gauges both the performances and perspectives of U.S. companies operating within the Chinese market. This year, AmCham Shanghai received responses from 377 of its members during a period in which the actions of President Xi Jinping's government remain a reason for American businesses, especially those in the technology sector, to tread carefully.

After Xi, who heads a top-level governmental working group on cybersecurity, approved a lengthy document at the end of last year that requires technology firms to share sensitive data with Beijing, even U.S. President Barack Obama has spoken up in outrage.

However, the AmCham results depict a more complicated picture, as 43 percent of respondents were "optimistic" about their prospects in China, while the "slightly optimistic" came in at 42 percent. Even though the former number declined from 53 percent last year, Kenneth Jarrett, president of AmCham Shanghai, told reporters at the launch event for the report that:

"The survey data on the business performance shows that our members continue to succeed and embrace opportunities in China."

The healthcare sector was shown to have the highest confidence levels, even though its profitability was at the low end of the scale, while 29 percent of the respondents ranked China as their top global investment priority.

In terms of the forthcoming year, 67 percent reported a planned increase in investment.

In addition to the tense climate between U.S. businesses and the Chinese government, the auspicious timing of the AmCham launch is related to the third session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), which commenced on Thursday.