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China’s president turns on charm with global business leaders, vowing ‘opportunities’ as nation opens its doors wider

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has undertaken a new charm offensive aimed at global business leaders, in a push to instill confidence and cultivate a sense of greater certainty amid a fast-changing international environment.

In his address to Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management advisory board headed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Chinese leader explained the country’s self-reliance strategy of , vowed to open the door wider to the world, and also welcomed feedback on economic development.

“China will integrate itself into the global market more actively to share development opportunities and continue to contribute to the global economic recovery,” he was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying on Thursday.

The world’s second-largest economy is looking to strengthen international exchanges and seek cooperation in sectors pertaining to education, scientific advancements and technology. Meanwhile, “all countries should enhance solidarity and cooperation, and uphold multilateralism to counter challenges,” he said via a video link.

The comments serve as the nation’s latest attempt to win the hearts of the international business community, some members of which have pulled out of China amid rising costs and US tariffs. Many other businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach, with concerns that

A hard-won seat on the Tsinghua advisory board appears to come with privileged access to the top leadership in China – a market that foreign giants such as Apple cannot afford to lose. Such appointments and events over the past several years could offer insight into the relationship between Beijing and some of the world’s most influential business leaders at a time when the China-US rivalry has escalated.

Aside from Cook, other heavyweight American entrepreneurs on the advisory board’s latest list for 2018-19 include Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Blackstone chairman and CEO Stephen Schwarzman, and JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon.

Beijing has previously used such occasions to court foreign investors and appeal for their support. In his meeting with the board members in October 2017, months before the US launched the trade war, Xi said the opening up of China’s market is not a zero-sum game but a win-win, and that the country will not “take advantage of others”.

The authorities have further opened up China’s financial market, and this contributed to record high foreign inflows into

China’s bond market this year. The country also further opened up its manufacturing and financial services sectors to foreign investment this year with the removal of seven items from its so-called negative list, reducing the total from 40 to 33, as part of an annual review.

Hon. Mohammed Adjei Sowah
In a speech before the launch, Mr. Sowah said, “Accra is ready to play a significant role in the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade agreement

There are still a lot of technical issues to resolve, such as how to guarantee a level playing field in Beijing’s push for domestic reliance.

China’s commerce authority has convened a series of talks with foreign commerce chambers since this past summer. In Tuesday’s video conference with more than 40 French businesses, including Airbus, Vice-Minister Wang Shouwen said China’s ambitious five-year development plan for 2021-25 will result in greater opportunities.

“We will try to build a market-oriented, law-based business environment,” he said.

China received US$115 billion worth of foreign direct investment in the January-October period, up 3.9 per cent from a year earlier.


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