Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone, and Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, were among the attendees of a formal dinner and reception held in San Francisco on Wednesday evening for visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The event, which was organized by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council, came after President Joe Biden and Xi spoke for a full day. Biden referred to their talks as “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had.”
The CEOs of the most well-known American corporations were eager to see high-ranking government ministers of a nation that last year had over $760 billion in commerce with the United States, so the dinner with Xi was highly anticipated.
On the guest list: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Boeing CEO Stan Deal, FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam, Visa chief Ryan McInerney, Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio, Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, Mastercard chair Merit Janow, and BlackRock’s Larry Fink.
Leading White House China advisor Kurt Campbell, U.S. ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo represented the Biden administration. London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, was also seated at the top table.
Cook was seated behind Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao, based on the place cards. Musk did not stay for the meal, according to event organizers, but he did attend the VIP reception.
Raimondo stressed in his remarks prior to the meal how much potential there is in the economic partnership between the United States and China.
Raimondo remarked, “Everyone in attendance this evening is still very interested in doing business in China and finding ways to strengthen our bilateral economic relationship.” “Half of you came to see me to tell me that, so I know that.”
Partners or adversaries?
Xi gave the keynote speech, which was one of his longest speeches of his tour to the United States. Using the speech, he offered an alternative perspective on the U.S.-China relationship to that of Biden.
“Are we partners or enemies?” is the main query we have. Xi enquired.
“One will only make misinformed policy decisions, take misguided actions, and get unwanted results if they view the other side as their main rival, the most significant geopolitical challenge, and a pacing threat,” stated Xi.
The fact that Biden had previously used each of those adjectives to characterize China was not missed on anyone in the room.
Xi underlined that China seeks a partnership—a “win-win” relationship—with the United States rather than rivalry.
As part of his broader outreach, Xi declared that China will be relocating its pandas to the San Diego Zoo following the return of three bears from Washington’s Smithsonian National Zoo to China.
“Pandas have long been envoys of friendship between the Chinese and American people,” he said.
“We are ready to continue our cooperation with the United States on panda conservation and do our best to meet the wishes of the Californians, so as to deepen friendly ties between our two peoples.”