As Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in San Francisco, top US business leaders anticipate an exclusive dinner, organized by the US-China Business Council (USCBC) and the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR), aiming to strengthen economic ties amid escalating tensions. The dinner, set against the backdrop of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, follows a day of talks between Xi and US President Joe Biden, attempting to stabilize relations between the world’s two largest economies.
The dinner serves as an opportunity for American business leaders to directly engage with Xi Jinping, addressing concerns related to China’s economic slowdown, US efforts to “de-risk” supply chains from China, and uncertainties arising from expanding Chinese security regulations. While the event seeks to foster better communication, the optics of the dinner raise uneasy questions, particularly given accusations of genocide against Muslim Uyghurs, which China vehemently denies.
Though yet to be formally announced, event notifications indicate that some US firms will pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of hearing from a “Chinese state leader.” The USCBC and NCUSCR have refrained from commenting on the planned dinner, and China’s embassy in Washington has not responded to requests for comment.
The dinner is anticipated to provide a platform for Xi Jinping to reassure US industry that China remains open for business, especially following its first quarterly deficit in foreign direct investment. Despite casting off COVID-19 pandemic controls, China has become more cautious in engaging with Western companies, aligning with Xi’s emphasis on national security. The crackdown on US consultancy and due-diligence firms further contributes to investor uncertainty.
The event, expected to cost up to $40,000 for a table of eight, raises questions about the utility for American businesses operating in China and potential political risks. Some executives express reservations about attending, given concerns about the impact on their operations and the broader geopolitical landscape.
While Xi’s dinner is part of a broader diplomatic push to improve US-China relations, critics, including lawmakers, question the appropriateness of such an event in light of human rights concerns. The dinner conversation becomes a focal point for addressing issues like forced labor and allegations against China’s treatment of Uyghurs.
Despite these concerns, the Biden administration emphasizes the importance of communication at the highest level to prevent competition from escalating into conflict. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notes that while the US seeks to reduce dependence on China in certain areas, broad economic decoupling is not the goal.
Xi Jinping’s “reassurance tour” aims to set expectations for foreign companies operating in China. Business leaders view direct engagement with Xi as an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to China while seeking insights into the country’s economic landscape and regulatory environment.
As the dinner unfolds, it becomes a microcosm of the intricate challenges and delicate balancing acts faced by US businesses navigating the complex terrain of US-China relations.
Sources By Agencies