Chinese President Hu Jintao told a group of U.S. business executives that he’s “fully confident” about the prospects for ties between the two countries.
“Looking forward, we are fully confident about the prospects of China-U.S. relations,” Hu said in a speech in Washington, following a White House summit yesterday with President Barack Obama.
The world’s economic recovery is a “tortuous process,” with “many uncertainties,” Hu said. “We should keep our relations on the path of equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit and mutual development.”
U.S. companies doing business in China are increasingly concerned that their future growth in what may now be the world’s second-biggest economy will be curbed by government policies designed to help home-grown companies compete globally in sectors such as aviation, telecommunications and banking.
On trade, Hu said today that inexpensive but “quality” Chinese goods saved U.S. consumers $600 billion over the past decade. He also called for more cooperation on aviation, health and the environment.
Hu described China’s military as defensive and a threat to no one, and stressed that Taiwan and Tibet are China’s core interests.
Protest Over Tibet
Outside the hotel in Northwest Washington where Hu gave his speech, protesters lined the streets, waving Tibetan and U.S. flags and calling for Tibetan independence.
Many U.S. companies have begun questioning their “long- term viability in China” amid regulations designed to promote Chinese companies, according to a report last year by the Beijing-based American Chamber of Commerce in China, which counts Intel Corp. and General Electric Co. as members.
Hu met yesterday with some of the chief executive officers present at today’s event, assuring them at a White House meeting that “we will, as always, try to provide a transparent, just, fair, highly efficient investment climate to U.S. companies and other foreign companies.”
Invited guests included Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, former Goldman Co-Chairman Robert Rubin, former American International Group CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who introduced Hu.
Even as U.S. business groups voice concerns over the China market, many are seeing rapid sales growth there. Two of the top 10 best-selling cars in China last year were made by a General Motors Co. venture. GE’s China sales should grow in the “high double digits” this year, CEO Jeffrey Immelt said last month.
Other CEOs on the guest list included Honeywell International Inc.’s David Cote, Procter & Gamble Co.’s Robert McDonald and Chevron Corp.’s John Watson.
In introductory remarks, Coca-Cola Co. CEO Muhtar Kent offered a toast to Hu, using the Japanese “kampai” instead of the Chinese “ganbei.”
Hu departs for Chicago today, where he is due to have a dinner meeting with Mayor Richard M. Daley and more company executives.
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