Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses a gathering of some of the biggest names in Chinese and US businesses Wednesday, they may be more interested what it says on progress towards a treaty among nations to provide a framework for the broader investment in the economy of each.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Amazon, Jeff Bezos, the investor Warren Buffett and Jack Ma of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba are among the top 30 executives attending a closed-door discussion remain moderate by former US Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, who has called for a treaty of this kind. American CEOs all participants signed a letter to Xi and US President Barack Obama, urging them to support an agreement.
Bilateral Investment Treaties provide the rules of the road for companies doing business in other countries, and can help ensure that the rights of foreign investors are protected and that foreign companies operate on an equal footing with nationals. An agreement with China would open the huge US market to American companies, establish clearer rules for Chinese investment in the US, and create jobs on both sides, supporters say.
Such treaties "can be a powerful catalyst for further economic growth," Evan Feigenbaum, vice president of the Institute of Paulson, which is co-hosting the meeting on Wednesday, said on Tuesday.
Xi arrived in Seattle on Tuesday for a three-day visit before he travels to the White House later this week. He expected to make brief remarks to attendees before the session is closed to the press.
Notable absentees in business discussion Wednesday were representatives of Twitter, Facebook and Google. These websites are blocked in China companies.
In a speech Tuesday night Xi spoke on a variety of topics, including the need for a bilateral investment agreement.
Earlier this summer, US Treasury Jacob Lew said the two sides had a long way to go in negotiating a bilateral investment treaty, but had agreed to reduce their respective lists of industries that would be exempt from foreign investment this month.
In his policy speech Tuesday night - attended by dignitaries including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Penny Pritzker, Commerce Secretary Obama - Xi said China and the United States could work together to tackle cyber crime, a problem that has caused tension with each other.
Xi also said China will continue its policy of aggressive development to help more Chinese people "live a better life."
Reaching agreements to ensure continued robust international trade was a priority, he said. "China will never close its door open to the outside world," Xi said, according to a translation of his words.
He said China was a strong supporter of cybersecurity, but was also a victim of piracy.
Recognizing that China and the United States do not always see eye to eye, Xi said China is willing to establish a joint effort with the United States to fight against cybercrime.
The issue is sensitive cyber attacks between the two nations. US officials say hacking attacks from China are approaching epidemic levels.
As Xi spoke Tuesday night, protesters gathered near the downtown hotel he was staying in opposing things like the country's policies in Tibet.
Earlier, the meetings with the governors of the five states of the US and Chinese local officials produced the agreement to work on clean energy.
"We can be the core of our national leaders to learn from," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who has made five trips to China in five years, told his counterparts.
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