Xi tells US firms China is ready to be partner and friend

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China is ready to be a partner and friend of the United States, and there is plenty of room for bilateral cooperation, President Xi Jinping told American executives in San Francisco on Wednesday, as Beijing looks to reassure global business and counter his country’s struggles to entice foreign investment.

The US executives dined with Xi on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum following a day of talks between Xi and US President Joe Biden, aimed at steadying relations between the world’s two largest economies.

Xi received a standing ovation and applause as he entered the room, and was applauded again as he took the stage to speak.

The world needs China and the US to work together, and it is wrong to view China as a threat and play a zero-sum game against it, Xi said in a speech to the audience, including some hand-picked by Beijing.

“Whatever stage of development it may reach, China will never pursue hegemony or expansion, and will never impose its will on others. China does not seek spheres of influence, and will not fight a cold war or a hot war with anyone.”

He also expressed sympathy for the American people over the fentanyl crisis. China and the US reached an agreement to curb fentanyl production in earlier talks between Xi and Biden.

The high-security dinner was a chance for companies to hear directly from China’s leader as they search for ways to navigate China’s economic slowdown, a US push to “de-risk “some American supply chains away from China, and uncertainty caused by China’s expanding security rules.

The event attracted nearly 400 in attendance including business and government officials and academics.

Executives from US corporate giants such as Apple’s Tim Cook, BlackRock’s Laurence Fink, Broadcom’s Hock Tan, Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio and Pfizer’s Albert Bourla were at the dinner tables.

Courses served included a seasonal vegetable salad, an option for coffee-crusted black Angus flat iron steak or a vegetable curry with squash and rice, a fruit tart and wine.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also attended the event with other US officials.