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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

American business leaders pin hopes on meeting between United States and China

Encounters in Beijing between secretary of state Antony J. Blinken and his Chinese counterparts, starting on Sunday, are likely to feel noticeably chillier

Ana Swanson And David McCabe New York Published 18.06.23, 04:42 AM
Xi Jinping praised Bill Gates as “the first American friend” he had met this year

Xi Jinping praised Bill Gates as “the first American friend” he had met this year

In a meeting in Beijing on Friday, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, traded warm smiles with Bill Gates and praised Gates as “the first American friend” he had met this year.

The encounters in Beijing between secretary of state Antony J. Blinken and his Chinese counterparts, starting on Sunday, are likely to feel noticeably chillier.

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The high-level meetings are aimed at getting the US-China relationship back on track, and many American business leaders have been pushing the Biden administration to try to restore some stability in one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships.

But for business leaders, and for officials on both sides, expectations for the meetings appear modest, with two main goals for the talks. One is to restore communication between the governments, which broke down this year after a Chinese surveillance balloon flew into US airspace and Blinken cancelled a visit scheduled for February. The other is to halt any further decline in the countries’ relationship.

There is already evidence of the impact of the fraying ties. Foreign direct investment in China has fallen to an 18-year low. A 2023 survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China showed that companies still see the Chinese market as a priority,.

“The economic relationship has become so dismal that any sign of progress is welcome, though expectations are low for any sort of a breakthrough,” said Jake Colvin, the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents multinational businesses. “The hope is that high-level dialogues like this can start to inject some certainty for business into an increasingly fraught and unpredictable trade relationship,” he said.

Still, as one of the world’s largest consumer markets and home to many factories that supply global businesses, China exerts a powerful pull. This year, as it eased its travel restrictions after three years of pandemic lockdowns, a parade of chief executives made trips to China, including Mary Barra of General Motors, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone.

On a visit to China this month, Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and owner of Twitter, described the American and Chinese economies as “conjoined twins” and said he opposed efforts to split them. Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, travelled to China in March and lauded the company’s “symbiotic” relationship with the nation.

Sam Altman, the leader of OpenAI, appeared virtually at a conference in Beijing this month, saying American and Chinese researchers should continue to work together to counter the risks of artificial intelligence.

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