President Xi Jinping addressed a group of American executives on Monday about topics like globalization, innovation and China’s relationship with the United States. The group included Apple CEO Tim Cook; Blackstone Group’s (bx) Stephen Schwarzman, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, amongst others.
According to the New York Times, the reception was one of Mr. Xi’s first public appearances involving foreign visitors since being elevated to the same exalted status as Mao Zedong, the country’s founding father, by a key Chinese Communist Party congress. It was also days after Donald Trump likened Xi to a king, and a week before the US President is due to visit China for the first time.
The intent of the event was most likely to position China as an economic superpower and peer of the United States, said the Times.
“China is advancing comprehensive deepening of reform [sic] with unprecedented determination and vigor,” he said, according to a summary of his comments issued by Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency. He added that “China has and will continue issuing a series of measures to further open up.”
While international investors and and business groups are reported to be skeptical about Mr. Xi’s plant to make the country more open, Mr. Xi reiterated his commitment to economic openness and reform, just 10 days after being confirmed as China’s leader for another five years by a Communist Party congress. The congress further endorsed Xi’s vision for the country to remain in the party’s grip and be devoted to reclaiming a central place on the international stage.
To this end, Xi emphasized China’s sovereignty and security remained of utmost importance, even as he reiterated a commitment to reform.
“China will firmly defend its sovereignty, security and developmental interests, and at the same time adhere to a fundamental national policy of opening up,” he said.
In addition to Apple (aapl) and Facebook (fb) representatives, other executives present at the event included Microsoft (msft) chief executive Satya Nadella; chief executive of SoftBank (sftby) Masayoshi Son; former Treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.; Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba (baba); Pony Ma, CEO of Tencent (tctzf); and the chief executive of Foxconn (fxcny), Terry Guo, as listed in the Times.