Xi Jinping Sees China As Continuing To Grow

In a recent engagement with leading American corporate executives, Chinese President Xi Jinping confirmed a vision of enduring optimism for China's economic trajectory, asserting that the nation has not reached its zenith. This dialogue, aimed at bolstering the assurance of international investors amidst rising apprehensions about market saturation and the spectre of dumping, unfolded within the iconic confines of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The assembly, encompassing notable figures from the US corporate sphere, including Evan Greenberg of Chubb, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, and Cristiano Amon of Qualcomm, was privy to Xi's reassurances that China's path to reform and openness is far from concluded. This reassurance comes at a critical juncture as China's trading partners voice concerns over its substantial investments in manufacturing, purportedly a strategy to counteract a profound slump in the property sector, which could precipitate excess supply and potential dumping on global markets.

Amidst these geopolitical and economic undercurrents, China has projected a growth rate of 5 percent for the current year—mirroring last year's target and marking a nadir not seen in several decades. Sceptics argue that attaining this goal hinges on a revival of domestic demand, a formidable challenge given the current climate.

Xi's audience also included luminaries such as Mark Carney, chair of Bloomberg, and Raj Subramaniam of FedEx, who were in the capital for the China Development Forum—an annual conclave that serves as Beijing's premier business event. The significance of this meeting is underscored by its timing, coming on the heels of a dinner in San Francisco last November, where Xi engaged with US business leaders under the aegis of the US-China Business Council and the National Committee on US-China Relations, entities represented by Craig Allen and Stephen Orlins, respectively.

The dialogue also included prominent figures like Hock Tan of Broadcom and Joshua Cooper Ramo of Kissinger Associates, underscoring the breadth of engagement between China and the international business community. Notably absent were European executives who, despite their attendance at the weekend's China Development Forum, were not part of this meeting—a decision influenced by the event's genesis in response to the San Francisco gathering.

This meeting unfolds against a backdrop of cautiously stabilizing US-China relations, despite ongoing frictions, including the US's scrutiny of Chinese electric vehicles and China's recent World Trade Organization action against US EV subsidies. Beijing's outreach to the international business community, as epitomized by Foreign Minister Wang Yi's engagement with Greenberg and Orlins, aims to quell the notion of China as a strategic threat—a perception Xi seeks to counter by advocating for Sino-American cooperation in addressing global economic challenges and regional hotspots.

Recent legislative clarifications aimed at facilitating cross-border data transfers and the presence of a more pronounced international delegation at this year's China Development Forum and the Boao Forum for Asia signal a potential thaw in China's business environment. Yet, as the global business community navigates these waters, the true measure of China's economic stability and its openness to reform remains a subject of keen international scrutiny.

By Brett Hurll

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