Xi Jinping receives US business representatives

(Beijing) Chinese President Xi Jinping received American business representatives in Beijing on Wednesday, according to state media, at a time when China is courting foreign investors to ward off the economic slowdown.

“President Xi Jinping met in the morning (…) with representatives of the American business community at the People’s Palace,” Chinese state television CCTV said.

The channel did not specify the names of the participants.

Cristiano Amon, chief executive of Qualcomm, a chipmaker, and Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of investment fund Blackstone, were among those present, according to a photo released by China’s Foreign Ministry.

Footage of the meeting shows Xi Jinping smilingly addressing a group of men in suits seated around long tables. Some took notes.

“Differences will always exist, because people are different. Even members of the same family are different,” argued the Chinese president, at a time when China and the United States are strengthening dialogue to try to overcome their disagreements.

There are many disputes between China and the United States, from trade to Taiwan, to rivalry in new technologies and the struggle for influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We should seek common ground and build more consensus. This is true between nations and between members of the same family,” Xi Jinping argued.

China, facing an economic slowdown and geopolitical tensions, is seeking to reassure foreign investors about the country’s growth prospects.

Foreign investment reached its lowest level in three decades last year, according to official figures.

Sluggish growth

American groups established in China have long complained of unfair competition in a country where intellectual property is weakly protected, and where local companies generally benefit from preferential treatment.

Their fears have increased in recent months, after several searches and interrogations targeting American consulting companies.

During an August visit to Beijing, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo called for a more “predictable” business environment in China, which could otherwise end up being considered “too risky” to invest there.

A new version of an anti-espionage law came into force last July. It significantly strengthens the Chinese authorities’ room for maneuver against what they consider to be threats to national security.

Since then, foreign companies have been left waiting in the face of this legislation, which has vague outlines and is subject to a number of interpretations.

The meeting on Wednesday comes after a major economic forum was held this week in Beijing attended by major foreign bosses, including Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Premier Li Qiang has set a target of “around 5 percent” for Chinese GDP growth this year.

This rate would make many developed nations dream, but for China it remains far from the dazzling expansion that has propelled it to the top of the world economy in recent decades.

In June, Xi Jinping personally received Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates during a visit to support China’s efforts in medical research.

This type of individual meeting is nevertheless very rare for an American businessman.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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