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Xi vows to protect foreign investors, ramping up charm offensive

Xi vows to protect foreign investors, ramping up charm offensive
Chinese President Xi Jinping claps after a signing ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People on 19 April 2023 in Beijing, China. (Photo: Ken Ishii-Pool / Getty Images)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping pledged that his nation would do right by foreign investors, underscoring his government’s attempts to assuage worries about the economy and unpredictable policymaking.

“Development is the top priority of the Communist Party of China in governing and rejuvenating the country,” Xi told New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins during his official visit to Beijing on Tuesday. 

“We will continue to vigorously promote high-level opening up and better protect the rights and interests of foreign investors per the law,” Xi said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Local officials in China need foreign investment because their coffers have been depleted by years of pandemic spending and a tumultuous property market. They’ve struggled to attract funds as investors remain cautious about the economy and the prospect of unexpected policy shifts.

Appetite for investment has been weakened by a clampdown on foreign consultancy firms that help global investors and multinational firms understand China. That campaign followed abrupt regulatory tightening efforts affecting industries ranging from technology to real estate, which sent foreign capital fleeing the nation’s financial markets.

The US and its European allies are also seeking to reduce their supply chain reliance on China to “de-risk” their economies, creating further strain. 

China’s attempts to encourage foreign investors have ramped up in recent weeks. At a “Summer Davos” dialogue in Tianjin on Tuesday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang told 120 entrepreneurs from around the world that his nation was willing to work with them, Xinhua reported. He also delivered a speech at the economic forum warning that attempts by governments to politicize their economies would only fragment the world.

Meanwhile, Bernard Arnault, the billionaire CEO of LVMH, is making his first trip to China since the pandemic. The French entrepreneur was spotted at a high-end shopping mall in Beijing on Tuesday, the Global Times tweeted, citing photos taken circulating on a social media platform.

The itinerary for Arnault’s entourage includes meetings with local teams in several cities, people familiar with the trip have said, declining to be named discussing the billionaire’s whereabouts. 

Besides Xi, Hipkins met the head of China’s legislature, Zhao Leji as part of his visit to the Asian nation this week.

“I emphasised the key focus of our visit was to reaffirm our close economic relationship by supporting businesses renewing their connections with Chinese counterparts and helping grow new ones to support New Zealand’s economic recovery,” Hipkins said in a statement after meeting the two. DM


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