China’s Xi Jinping to Meet with American Executives on Wednesday, Sources Say

REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo
Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 11, 2024.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping will meet with American business leaders in Beijing on Wednesday, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter, in a follow up to his November dinner with U.S. investors in San Francisco.

The meeting was proposed by chief executive of U.S. insurer Chubb CB.BN, Evan Greenberg, said one of the sources who has direct knowledge of the matter. Other attendees include Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

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.

Foreign businesses have been trying to reconcile Chinese leaders’ public overtures towards overseas investment with the rolling out of a broader anti-espionage law, raids on consultancies and due diligence firms, and exit bans.

“The lack of presser for Li Qiang at the Two Sessions and meeting with foreign executives at the China Development Forum shows Xi is very much in charge,” said Alfred Wu, associate professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

“Xi authorizes everything, and Li Qiang doesn’t want to overshadow his boss,” he added.

Xi received a standing ovation when he dined with U.S. executives at a dinner hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations in November.

Two sources said the meeting with Xi was not part of the China Development Forum agenda and was deliberately scheduled for Wednesday to separate it from the high-profile forum for senior foreign executives and China’s leaders.

The meeting was first reported by the Wall Street Journal last week.

China’s State Council Information Office, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the U.S.-China Business Council, and Chubb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Officials who spoke at the opening of the forum this weekend expressed confidence China would hit its economic targets, including growth of about 5% this year, and pledged further support for companies in strategically important sectors, an area Xi has dubbed “new productive forces.”

In November, Xi told American business leaders in San Francisco that China is ready to be a partner and friend of the U.S., and there is plenty of room for cooperation, in a bid to overcome China’s struggles to entice foreign investment.