Xi Jinping to address US business leaders amid growing skepticism over relations with China

Xi Jinping to address US business leaders amid growing skepticism over relations with China

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is scheduled to meet President Biden in San Francisco next week, is expected to speak with senior U.S. business executives at a dinner following the bilateral meeting.

Xi, who is visiting the United States for an international conference, will address business leaders at a difficult time in U.S.-China relations. The United States has expressed growing concern about China’s military ambitions and has sought to deny Beijing access to technologies that could be used against the United States. China’s treatment of Western companies, which face tighter restrictions on how they do business, has also prompted companies to question whether to invest in China.

Still, Chinese and U.S. leaders have expressed interest in strengthening ties between their economies, the world’s two largest, which remain inextricably linked by trade. The Biden administration has sent several senior officials to China this year to try to make clear that while the United States wants to protect national security, it is not seeking to sever economic ties with Beijing.

It is unclear whether Mr. Xi’s visit will do much to ease skepticism among foreign businesses, many of which are deterred by both China’s slowing economic growth and the Communist Party’s tighter grip Chinese on business activity under the leadership of Mr. Xi.

Tickets for the dinner and reception, hosted by the National Committee for U.S.-China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council, cost $2,000 each, according to an invitation circulating online. For $40,000, companies can buy eight seats per table plus one seat at Mr. Xi’s table, a person familiar with the matter said.

Interactions between Chinese officials and the U.S. business community will attempt to send a signal that China remains an attractive place to do business, “as evidenced by these companies flocking in droves to meet and dine with Xi Jinping “, said Jude Blanchette, president of Freeman. in Chinese Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said during a press briefing Tuesday.

Beijing wants this for “tactical reasons,” Mr. Blanchette said. “I don’t think, generally speaking, they expect or see the prospect of a reset or a recalibration of the relationship.”

Foreign companies are particularly concerned about Chinese regulations that prevent them from selling to the government or in certain markets, as well as a broader counterespionage law that can lead to prison sentences for company executives and researchers working in sensitive sectors. At the same time, the United States is tightening restrictions on investment and the sale of advanced technologies to China, saying such ties can pose national security concerns.

Many companies still view China as a key market, but more and more are looking to other countries for new investments. HAS investigation The U.S.-China Business Council of its members found this year that 34% of them had stopped or reduced their planned investments in China over the past year, a higher percentage than in previous years.

Mr. Blanchette said Chinese officials would also see the meeting as an opportunity to try to change the U.S. trajectory when it comes to the technological controls it imposes on China. But the United States is unlikely to change its position, he added.

“I think this will be one of the issues where the United States and China will have long-standing tensions. And I am sure that this will be communicated to Beijing,” said Mr. Blanchette.

The visit will be Mr. Xi’s first trip to the United States since 2017, when he met with President Donald J. Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Since then, U.S.-China trade relations have changed dramatically, with the countries waging a trade war and competing for advanced technology and geopolitical influence, and China becoming significantly more authoritarian under Mr. Xi’s leadership .

The dinner and reception featuring Xi will be part of a two-day “CEO Summit” to be held next week on the sidelines of a broader meeting of leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a group of 21 countries that surround the Pacific. Ocean. Mr Biden is expected to meet Mr Xi earlier next Wednesday, in their first face-to-face meeting in a year.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi are expected to discuss trade and technology ties, as well as issues including communication between the two countries’ militaries, stopping the flow of fentanyl to the United States and new agreements to govern the artificial intelligence.

In recent weeks, senior Chinese officials have met with their American counterparts to lay the groundwork. In a press release on Wednesday, organizers of the CEO summit said Mr Biden and Mr Xi would attend the two-day summit, alongside other world leaders and the CEOs of companies including Microsoft, Mastercard and Pfizer.

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David B.Otero

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