- Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Blackrock’s Steve Schwarzman were among the guests Wednesday night at a reception and dinner in San Francisco to visit Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- According to the place cards, Cook was seated next to Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.
- The dinner followed Xi’s daylong summit with President Joe Biden, which Biden called “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had.”
Top US business leaders meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco, California on November 15, 2023.
Eamon Javers, CNBC Correspondent
Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Blackrock’s Steve Schwarzman were among the guests Wednesday night at a gala reception and dinner in San Francisco to visit Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Hosted by the US-China Business Council and the National Committee on US-China Relations, the dinner followed Xi’s daylong summit with President Joe Biden, which Biden called “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we’ve had.”
The dinner with Xi was a hot ticket for CEOs of America’s most prominent companies, a chance to rub elbows with senior government ministers in a country that traded nearly $760 billion with the United States last year.
On the guest list: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Boeing CEO Stan Deal, FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam, Visa boss Ryan McInerney, Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio, Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, Mastercard chairman Merit Janow and BlackRock’s Larry Fink.
The Biden administration was represented by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns and Kurt Campbell, a top White House adviser on China. San Francisco Mayor London Breed also had a seat at the head table.
According to the place cards, Cook was seated next to Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao. Organizers said Musk attended the VIP reception but did not stay for the dinner.
The most important question for us is, are we opponents or partners?
President of China
In remarks before the meal, Raimondo emphasized how many opportunities there are in the economic relationship between the United States and China.
“All of you here tonight remain very interested in doing business in China and finding ways to advance our bilateral economic relationship,” Raimondo said. “I know because half of you have come to see me to tell me.”
Xi delivered the keynote speech, his most comprehensive remarks so far during his visit to the United States. He used the speech to present a view of US-China relations that differs significantly from Biden’s.
“The most important question for us is, are we adversaries or partners?” Xi asked.
“Seeing the other side as a primary competitor, the most consequential geopolitical challenge and a temporary threat will only lead to misinformed policies, deceptive actions and undesirable results,” Xi said.
It was not lost on the room that Biden has previously described China in each of these terms.
Instead of adversaries, Xi emphasized that China wants a partnership with the United States, a “win-win” relationship.
As part of his overall outreach message, Xi announced that China will send pandas to the San Diego Zoo after three of the bears were recently returned to China from Washington’s Smithsonian National Zoo.
“Pandas have long been ambassadors of friendship between the Chinese and American people,” he said.
“We stand ready to continue our cooperation with the United States on panda conservation and do our best to meet the wishes of Californians to deepen the friendly ties between our two peoples.”