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Will Xi’s stress on common prosperity dampen sentiments of American business tycoons?

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden take a walk in San Francisco

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s glitzy dinner with America’s business tycoons has hit headlines. Xi, who is currently in the US to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit met a host of industry leaders. The top bosses of most prominent companies including Apple, Boeing, Pfizer, Salesforce, FedEx, SpaceX among others were present at the glitzy dinner. SpaceX chief Elon Musk, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman were seated at the same table with the Chinese President.

Has Xi managed to soothe the frayed nerves of the American business community?

While it is learnt that many of the business tycoons spent hefty amounts to secure a table at the gala dinner with Xi, the Chinese President’s address may have done little to soothe their nerves even as he underlined the need for a win-win relationship between the US and China.

Notably, in his address, Xi said that China’s goal is not to have just a few wealthy people, but to realize common prosperity for all. Xi’s repeated call for ‘common prosperity’ along with Beijing’s crackdown on its homegrown private sector and now banks has spooked investors.

Bill Bishop, author of a newsletter Sinocism, focusing on Chinese affairs, in his analysis said that Xi’s speech to executives last night seems like a missed opportunity to reassure foreign investors and businesses. “There were no hints of any changes in policies for foreign businesses and investors, just reiterations that China is ‘a super-large economy and a super-large market’ and its modernization is a ‘huge opportunity that China provides to the world’,” Bishop said.

Inflow of foreign direct investment into China is slowing amid the ongoing crackdown on industry and business leaders in the country—something that is dampening sentiments.

“Xi’s dinner with top business leaders has caught the attention of the world..we know the guest list but I would assume that they were expecting more concrete steps to be announced (by the Chinese President) especially at a time when uncertainty on the economic front is rising with the crackdowns. The business leaders may have expected a little more from Xi,” a CEO heading an American multinational company in India said on condition of anonymity.

Several multinational companies are aggressively charting out a China Plus strategy. India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Malaysia are among the countries which are coming up as credible investment alternatives.

“The world needs China and the US to work together for a better future,” he added. “China is ready to be a partner and friend of the US,” Xi said in his address. He also stressed that China is both a “super-large economy and a super-large market.” Earlier, Xi and US President Joe Biden held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

Also read: Have China and the United States achieved a breakthrough during Xi-Biden talks?