Which American CEOs did Xi Jinping meet in Beijing? UPS, Pfizer, Goldman all on the list

Photos shed light on who the Chinese president was addressing when he called for multinationals to fight ‘protectionism’, as trade war with Washington looms

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 11:27pm

American executives from the likes of UPS, Pfizer, Cargill, Prologis and Goldman Sachs were at a gathering in Beijing when President Xi Jinping called for multinationals to help fight “protectionism” and told them China would remain open for business, according to images in state media reports and on social media.

US business delegates at the Global CEO Council round-table summit on Thursday included David Abney of UPS, Pfizer’s Albert Bourla, Arnold Donald from Carnival, Cargill’s David MacLennan, Hamid Moghadam of Prologis, Thomas Pritzker of Hyatt and David Solomon from Goldman Sachs, the photographs showed.

Official media did not provide a full list of foreign executives at the summit, which was held at the Diaoyutai State Guest House.

The CEO council was set up in 2013 by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, one of Beijing’s diplomatic arms, to improve the government’s ties with multinationals.

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Xi met the executives as a trade war brews between the world’s two biggest economies, after US President Donald Trump escalated the dispute this week by threatening to impose 10 per cent tariffs on another US$200 billion worth of Chinese products.

It apparently was an effort to lobby foreign businesses to help ease trade tensions before July 6, when the first batch of US tariffs on Chinese products – and Chinese duties on US goods – will take effect, although there are currently no publicly announced negotiations to try to avert a conflict.

According to Xinhua, Xi told the delegates on Thursday that the international community should stand up against “protectionism, isolationism and populism”, without naming the US or Trump. He also promised to open China’s market further to foreign investors.

“The international community is a global village and should not engage in zero-sum games,” Xi was quoted as saying. “China’s door to the outside world will open even wider, rather than being closed.”

Vice-Premier Liu He, who has led trade talks with the US, was also at the gathering along with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and He Lifeng, the country’s top economic planner, Xinhua reported.

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The European contingent included Patrice Caine from Thales, Alstom’s Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Jean-Pascal Tricoire of Schneider Electric, ABB’s Ulrich Spiesshofer and Rajeev Suri from Nokia, according to the photos.

Herbert Diess of Volkswagen, Dieter Zetsche of Daimler, Frans van Houten of Philips and Lakshmi Mittal of ArcelorMittal, which is registered in Luxembourg, also attended the summit.

British executives included Pascal Soriot from AstraZeneca, Ralf Speth of Jaguar Land Rover and Merlin Swire from John Swire & Sons. Andrew Mackenzie of BHP was also pictured at the event.

Goldman Sachs and John Swire & Sons confirmed their executives were at the meeting with Xi when reached by the South China Morning Post, but they declined to provide further details.

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It was Xi’s first appearance at the Global CEO Council summit – Premier Li Keqiang has attended for the past four years, according to state media.

The president has taken more of a hands-on approach to the global business community since his speech last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as he tries to convince them that China is committed to globalisation and free trade.

His comments on Thursday were consistent with what he said at the Boao Forum for Asia in April, when he promised China would open its market wider to the outside world.

Washington is not convinced. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that “Chinese leaders over these past few weeks have been claiming openness and globalisation, but it’s a joke”.

Additional reporting by Eugene Tang