US business titans including Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink are set to attend a dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, as he tries to woo foreign capital to the world’s second-largest economy.
Blackstone Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman and Visa Inc. CEO Ryan McInerney will also join them at the soiree in San Francisco, according to people briefed on the matter. Pfizer Inc. CEO Albert Bourla earlier confirmed he would attend the event, as he spoke on the sidelines of a summit that’s part of this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meetings.
Technology CEOs including Qualcomm Inc.’s Cristiano Amon and Broadcom Inc.’s Hock Tan are also on the guest list, said the people, who asked not to be identified sharing details of a private event.
Xi will have the chance to talk up China’s economy to some of the world’s most-powerful foreign investors at the event, after a post-pandemic reopening expected to spur global growth failed to deliver. The Chinese leader will go into the dinner after wrapping an afternoon of talks with US President Joe Biden, aimed at stabilizing a tumultuous bilateral relationship that’s also troubled investors.
China is a major market for consumer electronics, accounting for about one-fifth of sales for Cupertino, California-based Apple. Qualcomm and Broadcom are among the world’s largest makers of chips for mobile phones, and their components are used in millions of handsets sold across China. Representatives of Apple, Qualcomm and Broadcom either declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests for comment.
China sees investment by international companies as key to upgrading its faltering economy and has stepped up efforts to attract foreign investors this year. Its tightening of national security controls and messaging that foreign actors pose spy risks, along with years of policy crackdowns, have left some skeptical of that message.
“The Chinese economy is clearly weakening. There’s no question,” said Derek Scissors, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “But if you need to stay in China, and you’re worried about your position because of Chinese government behavior, it’s even more important to be able to talk to Xi.”
Details around the dinner have been closely guarded. Its hosts, the National Committee on U.S.–China Relations and the US-China Business Council, had in recent days remained silent even over which Chinese leader would attend the event, as well as its location.
Shortly before the event — being held at a San Francisco hotel where crowds gathered in support and in protest of China — the official program was available to attendees: Xi would address the dinner following an introduction from Chubb Ltd. CEO Evan Greenberg, chair of the committee.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was set to give remarks beforehand, introduced by council chair Marc Casper, the CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., according to the document.
Representative Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, claimed at an anti-CCP rally on Saturday that attendees were paying $40,000 to sit at Xi’s table. The Chinese leader is also expected to deliver an address to the dinner.
A group of Xi’s “old friends” from Iowa have also been invited to the dinner, Bloomberg earlier reported. The group hosted Xi during a visit to the US to learn about agricultural practices some 38 years ago, when he was a little-known Chinese Communist Party official.
–With assistance from Fran Wang, Gabrielle Coppola, Aisha Counts, Dawn Lim, Silla Brush, Mark Gurman and Ian King.