China’s President Xi meets US executives in Beijing

China's President Xi Jinping has held talks with US executives in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

China's President Xi Jinping has held talks with US executives in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Photo: AFP/Getty

China’s President Xi Jinping has met with US business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing as the government tries to woo foreign investors back into the country and international firms seek reassurance over new regulations.

Beijing wants to boost growth this year in the world’s second largest economy, after foreign direct investment into China shrank eight per cent in 2023 as investor concern grew over an anti-espionage law, exit bans and raids on consultancies and due diligence firms.

Xi’s increasing focus on national security has left many companies uncertain where they might step over the line, even as Chinese leaders make public overtures towards overseas investors.

“China’s development has gone through all sorts of difficulties and challenges to get to where it is today,” Xi said, according to state media.

“In the past, (China) did not collapse because of a ‘China collapse theory’ and it will also not peak now because of a ‘China peak theory,'” he added.

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of private equity firm Blackstone, Raj Subramaniam, head of American delivery giant FedEx, and Cristiano Amon, the boss of chips manufacturer Qualcomm were part of the around 20-strong all-male US contingent.

The audience with Xi – organised by the National Committee on US-China Relations, the US-China Business Council and the Asia Society think tank – lasted about 90 minutes, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The source, who declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media, had no immediate comment on what was discussed and the three organisations did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the meeting.

The US and China have been gradually resuming engagements after relations between the two economic superpowers sank to the lowest in years, clashing over trade policies, the future of democratically ruled Taiwan and territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The gathering took place in the East Hall of the Great Hall of the People, which is reserved for important functions. Attendees sat in a square formation around a large red, orange and green floral installation, a video released by state media showed.

The audience with Xi follows Chinese Premier Li Qiang not meeting visiting foreign CEOs at the China Development Forum in Beijing on March 24-25, which prompted concerns over transparency in the world’s second-largest economy.

The chance to exchange views with Beijing’s second-ranking leader had become a key element of the summit in previous years.

Wednesday’s meeting followed on from a dinner in November with US executives in San Francisco, where Xi received a standing ovation.

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