Xi's US Visit Coverage - New Era Calls For 'Stronger, Better & Bigger' SoEs - Xi's Speech at APEC CEOs Summit
Here are the key reports and articles that I found noteworthy from the People's Daily’s edition on Friday, November 17, 2023.
Page 1: The lead story today is the readout after the Biden-Xi meeting, which I covered yesterday. In addition, there’s a report on Xi’s speech at the welcome dinner in San Francisco. This was the “Welcome Dinner by Friendly Organizations in the United States”. Xinhua has the full English text. Xi said:
“A hundred and fifty-eight years ago, a large number of Chinese workers came all the way to the United States to build the first transcontinental railroad, and established in San Francisco the oldest Chinatown in the Western Hemisphere. From here, China and the United States have made many achievements--USD 760 billion of annual bilateral trade and over USD 260 billion of two-way investment, 284 pairs of sister provinces/states and sister cities, and over 300 scheduled flights every week and over five million travels every year at peak time. These extraordinary accomplishments were made jointly by our peoples accounting for nearly one quarter of the global population. San Francisco has also borne witness to the efforts by China and the United States in building a better world. Seventy-eight years ago, after jointly defeating fascism and militarism, our two countries initiated together with others the San Francisco Conference, which helped found the United Nations, and China was the first country to sign the U.N. Charter. Starting from San Francisco, the postwar international order was established.”
Xi then talked about the Flying Tigers and drew a line from there to ping pong diplomacy, highlighting that the “door of China-U.S. relations was opened by our peoples.” He talked about his engagements with American officials and people and the people-to-people relationship, before saying that “I am convinced that once opened, the door of China-U.S. relations cannot be shut again. Once started, the cause of China-U.S. friendship cannot be derailed halfway. The tree of our peoples' friendship has grown tall and strong; and it can surely withstand the assault of any wind or storm.”
He added: “Today, President Biden and I reached important consensus. Our two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures. We hope that our two peoples will make more visits, contacts and exchanges and write new stories of friendship in the new era.”
The next bit is the key part from the speech:
“We are in an era of challenges and changes. It is also an era of hope. The world needs China and the United States to work together for a better future. We, the largest developing country and the largest developed country, must handle our relations well. In a world of changes and chaos, it is ever more important for us to have the mind, assume the vision, shoulder the responsibility, and play the role that come along with our status as major countries…In this respect, the number one question for us is: are we adversaries, or partners? This is the fundamental and overarching issue. The logic is quite simple. If one sees the other side as a primary competitor, the most consequential geopolitical challenge and a pacing threat, it will only lead to misinformed policy making, misguided actions, and unwanted results. China is ready to be a partner and friend of the United States. The fundamental principles that we follow in handling China-U.S. relations are mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. Just as mutual respect is a basic code of behavior for individuals, it is fundamental for China-U.S. relations. The United States is unique in its history, culture and geographical position, which have shaped its distinct development path and social system. We fully respect all this. The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics has been found under the guidance of the theory of scientific socialism, and is rooted in the tradition of the Chinese civilization with an uninterrupted history of more than 5,000 years. We are proud of our choice, just as you are proud of yours. Our paths are different, but both are the choice by our peoples, and both lead to the realization of the common values of humanity. They should be both respected. Peaceful coexistence is a basic norm for international relations, and is even more of a baseline that China and the United States should hold on to as two major countries. It is wrong to view China, which is committed to peaceful development, as a threat and thus play a zero-sum game against it. China never bets against the United States, and never interferes in its internal affairs. China has no intention to challenge the United States or to unseat it. Instead, we will be glad to see a confident, open, ever-growing and prosperous United States. Likewise, the United States should not bet against China, or interfere in China's internal affairs. It should instead welcome a peaceful, stable and prosperous China. Win-win cooperation is the trend of the times, and it is also an inherent property of China-U.S. relations. China is pursuing high-quality development, and the United States is revitalizing its economy. There is plenty of room for our cooperation, and we are fully able to help each other succeed and achieve win-win outcomes.”
Xi added: “The Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) proposed by China are open to all countries at all times including the United States. China is also ready to participate in U.S.-proposed multilateral cooperation initiatives…I would like to let you know that China sympathizes deeply with the American people, especially the young, for the sufferings that Fentanyl has inflicted upon them. President Biden and I have agreed to set up a working group on counternarcotics to further our cooperation and help the United States tackle drug abuse. I also wish to announce here that to increase exchanges between our peoples, especially between the youth, China is ready to invite 50,000 young Americans to China on exchange and study programs in the next five years.”
The final bit of the speech focuses on China’s economic policy and development agenda. Xi basically lists the five characteristics of Chinese-style modernisation. One key point among them being:
“Our goal is not to have just a few wealthy people, but to realize common prosperity for all. Employment, education, medical services, child care, elderly care, housing, the environment and the like are real issues important to people's daily life and close to their heart. They are being steadily integrated into our top-level plans for national development, thus ever increasing the sense of fulfillment, happiness and security of our people. We will continue to promote high-quality development and deliver the benefits of modernization to all.”
Also, this is an interesting line: “Material shortage is not socialism, nor is cultural-ethical impoverishment.”
Xi ended the speech by stating that “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. China will remain committed to dialogue and oppose confrontation, and build partnerships instead of alliances. It will continue to pursue a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up.”
As Reuters reports, “executives from U.S. 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. Xi also met Tesla CEO Elon Musk, telling him that he supports the company's development in China, according to a statement from the auto maker's Weibo Account on Thursday.” Xi also received standing ovations during the event.
Lingling Wei and Charles Hutzler’s report in WSJ offers a really important perspective on the speech:
“Foreign capital is fleeing China. Yet on his first trip to the U.S. in six years, Chinese leader Xi Jinping didn’t make a pitch to win back American businesses and investors. Instead, at a Wednesday evening dinner with U.S. corporate chiefs and other guests, Xi sought to enlist American corporations’ help in easing bilateral tensions, emphasizing the room for both nations to work together—a theme of his meeting with President Biden earlier in the day. To the business leaders, Xi said, “China is pursuing high-quality development, and the United States is revitalizing its economy,” while adding: “There is plenty of room for our cooperation.” The absence of any mention of trade and investment, let alone reassurance for businesses jarred by an increasingly tough environment in China, surprised and dismayed some of the executives in attendance, who described it as a missed opportunity. “I, too, was disappointed that Xi didn’t take the opportunity to address the American business community’s concerns about the operating environment in China,” said Andy Rothman, an investment strategist at Matthews Asia, a U.S.-based fund manager, “or to share his thoughts on how his domestic economic policies might evolve in the coming quarters…Xi’s cooperation message sounded tone deaf to some in the audience at a time when the risks for businesses operating in China have increased substantially. Western management consultants, auditors and other firms have been hit with raids, investigations and detentions. Meanwhile, new espionage and data-security laws threaten to criminalize routine business activities. “He offered no hints of concessions to business or even interest in more investment in the Chinese economy,” said a senior American business executive who attended the dinner. “The speech was propaganda at its finest.”
Page 2: There’s an interview with Wang Yi summarising the key developments from Xi’s meeting with Biden. Wang hoped that the meeting would be “a new starting point” for Sino-US ties. He said (English version) that:
“The meeting lasted four hours and used simultaneous interpretation. The two presidents had an in-depth exchange of views face to face. They offered views guiding the most pronounced issues confronting China-U.S. relations, including adopting a correct perception of each other, properly managing differences, and advancing dialogue and cooperation. They had all-round discussions on addressing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Ukraine crisis, climate change, artificial intelligence and other global challenges. They further discussed the right way for the two major countries to get along with each other and further identified the joint responsibilities of China and the United States as major countries. Together, they embraced a future-oriented San Francisco vision, and pointed the way and drew a blueprint for the sound, steady and sustained growth of China-U.S. relations.”
In the next bit, Wang talks about what Xi’s priorities were:
“President Xi Jinping gave a comprehensive and authoritative presentation on China’s position on stabilizing and improving China-U.S. relations. The most important points are as follows:
First, making the right choice for history. Are China and the United States partners or rivals? Should they engage in mutually beneficial cooperation or antagonism and confrontation? This is a fundamental question on which disastrous mistakes must be avoided. President Xi Jinping pointed out that history is the best textbook and reality is the best antidote. We hope the two countries could be partners that proactively advance a cooperative agenda in areas where their interests converge and engage in positive interactions in international and multilateral fora. This will open up a bright future for China-U.S. relations.
Second, finding the right way to get along. President Xi Jinping pointed out that despite their different histories, cultures and social systems, it is not an option for China and the United States to turn their back on each other; it is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other; and conflict and confrontation has unbearable consequences for both sides. The right approach is to respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation. These three principles are important lessons learned from 50 years of China-U.S. relations as well as the history of major-country conflict and confrontation. China and the United States should put in a lot of efforts to follow the three principles.
Third, fostering a San Francisco vision for the relations. President Xi Jinping, speaking from his vantage point, pointed out that the two countries should jointly develop a right perception, jointly manage disagreements effectively, jointly advance mutually beneficial cooperation, jointly shoulder responsibilities as major countries, and jointly promote people-to-people exchanges. Through joint efforts in these five areas, five pillars can be put in place for China-U.S. relations to grow steadily and a new vision is fostered for China-U.S. relations going into the future.”
The next question deals with outcomes from the meeting. I covered these yesterday. But I’ll still highlight this response from Wang:
“On principles guiding the China-U.S. relations, the two presidents endorsed the efforts of their respective diplomatic teams to discuss principles related to China-U.S. relations since the Bali meeting and the common understandings arising from those discussions. They stressed the importance of all countries treating each other with respect and finding a way to live alongside each other peacefully, and of maintaining open lines of communication, preventing conflict, upholding the U.N. Charter, cooperating in areas of shared interest, and responsibly managing competitive aspects of the relationship. These seven points of common understanding are very important in that they provide a solid foundation for deeper discussions going forward. The leaders welcomed continued discussions in this regard. On dialogue and cooperation, the two sides decided to step up high-level interactions, advance or launch regular consultations in such areas as commerce, economy, finance, export control, the Asia-Pacific, maritime, arms control and nonproliferation, foreign policy planning, China-U.S. joint working group, and disability issues. The two sides agreed to start consultations on extending the China-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, and on resuming the China-U.S. Joint Committee on Cooperation in Agriculture.”
Next, on the point of discussing sensitive issues, Wang said:
“President Xi Jinping emphasized that China is committed to having a stable, healthy and sustainable relationship with the United States. At the same time, China has legitimate interests that must be safeguarded, principles and positions that must be upheld, and red lines that must not be crossed. If the U.S. side is bent on encircling and containing China under the pretext of competition, China will firmly uphold its sovereignty, security and development interests. The Taiwan question remains the most important and most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations. President Xi Jinping elaborated on China’s principled position on the issue. China urges the U.S. to honor the one-China principle, oppose ‘Taiwan independence’, stop arming Taiwan, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and support China’s peaceful reunification. President Xi Jinping also made clear China’s position on issues related to economy, trade, and technology. He pointed out that attempts to curb or suppress China on economy, trade and technology are creating risks instead of ‘de-risking’. These misguided actions, and the ensuing uncertainty for China-U.S. relations, have become the biggest risk. Stifling China’s technological progress is nothing but a move to curb China’s high-quality development and deprive the Chinese people of their right to development. China will not accept that and such a move will not succeed. China’s development and growing strength, powered by strong internal drivers and its own inherent logic, will not be stopped by external forces. It is important that the U.S. side take China’s concerns seriously, lift unilateral sanctions, and provide an equal, fair, and nondiscriminatory environment for Chinese businesses.”
On Page 3, there’s also a Zhong Sheng commentary on China-US ties. I am not covering it because it basically says the same things that have already been covered.
Also on the page is a report on Xi’s and Li Qiang’s instructions in response to a fire at a building of a coal mine company in Lyuliang in Shanxi Province. At least 26 people have died and 38 others are reported injured. Xinhua’s reporting says that Xi called for “all-out efforts to rescue”. He also wants “authorities to find out the cause of the accident as soon as possible, and hold accountable those responsible.” Li Qiang urged “fast rescue of the missing personnel, all-out efforts to treat the wounded, minimizing casualties, and properly dealing with the aftermath. On assignment from Xi, officials from the State Council and relevant departments have gone to the scene to guide the rescue and emergency response work”. (Comment: Is this par for the course in the system or is it a sign of how the system needs such top-level instruction/attention for an issue to be treated with seriousness? If it is the latter, it tells us a bit about weakening autonomy and therefore governance/decision-making capacity at local levels.)
Page 4: There’s a report on Zhao Leji’s remarks during an inspection tour in Chongqing. He essentially emphasised the need for people’s congresses to remain connected with the grassroots, serving “as a bridge between the party and the state and the people.” “Mechanisms and platforms for deputies to keep in touch with the public should be well established and used well, activities should focus on deputies’ statutory duties, and activities should be conducted in ways that facilitate public participation.” 代表联系群众的机制和平台要建好更要用好，活动内容要聚焦代表法定职责，活动方式要方便群众参与.
In Heilongjiang, Li “came to a thermal power plant in Heilongjiang, learning about the local heating situation. He called for all-out efforts to keep people warm in the winter while lowering energy consumption. At Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, Li encouraged people to continue to work hard in education, scientific research, and other aspects. While inspecting an agriculture machinery company in Heilongjiang, Li learned in detail about the development of intelligent agriculture equipment. He urged all parties to pool their resources to accelerate mechanized and intelligent development of agriculture production. The premier also observed the development of Shenzhen (Harbin) Industrial Park, stressing efforts to draw on the experience of advanced regions, energize development mechanisms, and nurture new driving forces for economic development. At the AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Co., Ltd., the premier expressed hope that the company would break through key core technologies to manufacture world-class helicopters.”
In Jilin, “Li visited a pharmaceutical company and a satellite company. He encouraged the enterprises to continue to increase research and development investment, strengthen the construction of talent teams, and develop through benefitting the people and meeting the market demand. While visiting a research institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Changchun, he urged efforts to accelerate the research and development of photoelectric technology and the transformation of academic achievements. At the China FAW Group, he heard reports on new-energy vehicle project developments. He encouraged the company to equally emphasize independent research and development and joint research to make breakthroughs. On his tour of a beef processing enterprise, he learned about their beef production and product development and hoped the company would strengthen efforts to improve the whole industrial chain.”
Finally, “Li chaired a symposium on the reform and development of state-owned enterprises and listened to the speeches of some heads of central enterprises and local state-owned enterprises. Li pointed out that the current domestic and international situation has undergone profound changes, which has put forward new requirements for the reform and development of state-owned enterprises. It is necessary to deeply understand the important missions of state-owned enterprises in the new era and on the new journey, give full play to the roles of technological innovation, industrial control, and security support, and make state-owned enterprises stronger, better and bigger in the process of reform and innovation. At the same time, optimise the layout structure to drive and promote the common development of private enterprises, as well as small and micro enterprises.” 调研中，李强主持召开国有企业改革发展座谈会，听取部分央企和地方国企负责人发言。李强指出，当前国内外形势发生深刻变化，对国企改革发展提出了新要求。要深刻认识新时代新征程国有企业肩负的重要使命，充分发挥科技创新、产业控制和安全支撑作用，在改革创新中做强做优做大国有企业。同时优化布局结构，带动和促进民营企业、中小微企业共同发展.
Finally, although this is not in the paper today, let me cover excerpts of Xi’s speech at APEC CEO Summit, which again focussed more on political issues than business issues. Key excerpts:
“Openness and inclusiveness are the defining feature of Asia-Pacific cooperation. Development in our region has been achieved not through provoking antagonism and confrontation, pursuing a beggar-thy-neighbor policy, or erecting high fences around a small yard, but by staying open and inclusive and drawing on each other's strengths.”
“Seeking common ground while shelving differences is the best practice of Asia-Pacific cooperation. Economies in the region have different histories and cultures and are in different stages of development. Forcing uniformity will not advance cooperation in the region; seeking common ground while shelving differences is the right way forward. Over the past three decades, we have properly tackled major challenges such as the Asian and international financial crises, and have sustained the momentum of economic development in the Asia-Pacific. Our success was possible because we have followed the underlying trend, kept the larger picture in mind, and capitalized on the spirit of partnership featuring harmony without uniformity, and solidarity and mutual assistance. This has enabled us to turn diversity in membership into momentum for cooperation and make collective progress through tapping into complementarity.”
“Peace does not come by easily, and development is a long and arduous task. We should jointly uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and follow the right norms for state-to-state relations to maintain Asia-Pacific prosperity and stability through dialogue and partnership rather than confrontation and alliance. The region cannot and should not be an arena for geopolitical rivalry, still less should it be plunged into a new cold war or camp-based confrontation.”
“The story of Asia-Pacific prosperity and development shows that development is only possible with cooperation, absence of cooperation is the biggest risk, and that decoupling and supply-chain disruption are not in anyone's interests. We should remain committed to open regionalism, and steadfastly advance the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. We should respect laws governing economic development, bring out the best in each and every one of us, make our economies more interconnected, strengthen synergy between relevant regional trade agreements and development strategies, and build an open Asia-Pacific economy featuring win-win cooperation.”
“Facing a new wave of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, we should look beyond the horizon, seize the opportunities, and move along with the trend to promote transition to digital, smart and green development. We should jointly boost innovation and market application of scientific and technological advances, and push forward full integration of digital and physical economies. We should jointly improve global governance of science and technology, bolster support for green and digital transition and sustainable development through innovation, and build an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the development of science and technology.”
He then talked about GDI, GSI and GCI, saying: “China will work with all in the Asia-Pacific to advance and implement these initiatives, and build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and shared prosperity.”
In the final bit, he focused on the Chinese economy. Some key points:
“China remains the most powerful engine of global growth, and will generate one-third of global growth this year. Just as some leaders of the business community have said, China has become a synonym of the best investment destination, and that the ‘next China’ is still China.”
“China is committed to applying the new development philosophy with a focus on achieving innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, and it is pursuing high-quality development and high value-added and green economic growth…A national voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reduction trading market will soon be launched, which will create huge green market opportunities. China will expedite its efforts to modernize the industrial system, provide better institutional safeguards to enable business entities of all types to share in the gains of development, and foster new drivers of growth and create more room for development.”
“We remain committed to pursuing development with our doors open. We will unswervingly advance high-standard opening up and further expand market access…No matter how the international situation evolves, China's resolve to foster a market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment will not change. And our policy of providing equal and quality services to foreign investors will not change. We will continue to improve the mechanisms for protecting the rights and interests of foreign investors, further shorten the negative list on foreign investment, fully ensure national treatment for foreign investors, and continue to strengthen IPR protection. We will strive to tear down the barriers to the flow of innovation factors, deepen reform of the digital economy, and promote free and orderly flow of data in compliance with the law. We will also take more ‘heart-warming’ measures, such as improving the policies on entry and stay of foreign nationals in China and removing for them choke points in financial, medical, e-payment and other services. All this is designed to make it easier for foreign companies to invest and operate in China.”
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