Chinese President Xi Jinping started the second day of his Seattle visit with remarks to a high-powered group of 30 CEOs from some of America and China’s largest businesses.
CEOs of Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, IBM and General Motors, among others, were in attendance as Xi reiterated some of the recurring themes from his visit so far: that China economy’s was doing well with big growth potential and that his country is working on being more open and transparent.
“The long-term positive trend of the Chinese economy will not change,” he told the group, which also included Jack Ma of Alibaba, Pony Ma of Tencent and Yang Yuanqing of Lenovo.
Xi touted the ties between the U.S. and China, saying that, as of August, 65,000 U.S. businesses were in China investing some $76 billion total.
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Chinese investment in the U.S. is rising, he said, with some 1,600 Chinese companies in 44 states. Those companies directly created 80,000 full-time jobs, he said.
Xi said China’s economy has “big potential,” citing its diversity, modernization efforts and innovations.
He said China was working toward stronger protections for intellectual property rights, adding that “we will continue to build a law-based business environment.”
The roundtable of 15 CEOs from each country is organized by the Paulson Institute, a Chicago-based nonpartisan center founded by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
On the bilateral investment treaty, currently being negotiated between the U.S. and China, Xi said that the treaty, when concluded, would further ease market access and establish more open and transparent market rules.
Earlier this month, 94 American CEOs signed a letter to President Obama and Xi supporting such a treaty.
The business relationship between the U.S. and China is moving from one of mainly trade to one driven by both trade and investment, said Xi, who added that in 2014, China attracted $128.5 billion of foreign direct investment.
Xi encouraged American companies to open locations in China, saying that when Disney was considering building a theme park in Shanghai, and there was a debate whether to develop an American theme park or a Chinese-style one, “for myself, I voted yes for Disney.”
He had visited Disney theme parks in Tokyo and in Orlando, Fla., he said, and concluded that China needs a diverse entertainment market.
He also said the Chinese companies represented at the roundtable should “seize the opportunity” to invest more in the U.S.
President Xi addresses CEOs (translated)
Courtesy of The Associated Press
As the business ties between the U.S. and China deepen, Xi said, it was “only natural” to see frictions increase. But “problems are always outnumbered by solutions,” he said.
Media was granted access to about 15 minutes of the hours-long roundtable, to hear the remarks from Xi. The roundtable was otherwise off-limits to press.
In prepared remarks sent to reporters after Xi’s remarks, Paulson, who moderated the roundtable, outlined the concerns of businesses of each side.
U.S. companies pursuing foreign investments in China are seeking to better understand potential obstacles such as standards that might exclude U.S. products, challenges with intellectual property protection and new regulations for technology and data sharing.
The U.S. needs to find ways to encourage more job-creating investments from China and to “fix some of our own flawed policies and inefficiencies, especially through tax and fiscal reform,” Paulson said in his prepared remarks.
U.S. CEOs participating, according to the Institute, are:
Mary Barra, General Motors
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
John Chambers, Cisco Systems
Tim Cook, Apple
Dave Cote, Honeywell
Bob Iger, Walt Disney Company
Ellen Kullman, DuPont
Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical Company
Satya Nadella, Microsoft
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo
Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Company
Tom Pritzker, Hyatt Hotels
Ginna Rometty, IBM Corp.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks
Chinese CEOs participating:
Ma Yun, Alibaba
Lu Guanqiu, Wanxiang
Ma Huateng, Tencent
Yang Yuanqin, Lenovo
Wang Yusuo, ENN Energy Holdings
Ma Zehua, COSCO
Guan Qin, CSCEC
Wan Long, Shuanghui Group
Tian Guoli, Bank of China
Jiang Jianqing, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Pan Gang, Yili Group
Zhang Yaqin, Baidu
Liang Haishan, Haier Group
Wang Jinshu, Yuhuang Chemical Industry Group
Guo Guangchang of Fosun