The event was organized by the U.S.-China Business Council and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. It took place after Xi’s summit with President Joe Biden, which Biden praised as “constructive and productive discussions.”
The dinner with Xi was a sought-after invitation for CEOs of major American companies. It provided an opportunity for them to socialize with high-ranking government officials from China, a country that engaged in nearly $760 billion worth of trade with the United States last year.
Among the notable guests were Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Boeing CEO Stan Deal, FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam, Visa chief Ryan McInerney, Ray Dalio from Bridgewater Associates, Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, Merit Janow, the chair of Mastercard, and Larry Fink from BlackRock.
Representing the Biden administration were Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, and Kurt Campbell, a top White House China advisor. San Francisco Mayor London Breed also had a prominent position at the head table.
At the event, Apple’s Tim Cook was seated beside Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao, as indicated by the place cards. Although Elon Musk attended the VIP reception, he didn’t stay for the dinner, according to organizers.
The number one question for us is, are we adversaries or partners?
Before the meal, Raimondo highlighted the considerable opportunities still present in the economic relationship between the U.S. and China.
“All of you here this evening remain keenly interested to do business in China, and to find ways to advance our bilateral economic relationship,” Raimondo said. “I know that, because half of you have come to see me to tell me that.”
Partners or Adversaries?
Xi gave the keynote speech, offering his most extensive comments during his U.S. visit. In his address, he shared a perspective on the U.S.-China relationship that notably contrasts with Biden’s.
“The crucial question for us is whether we are adversaries or partners,” Xi inquired. He cautioned that viewing the other side as a main competitor, the most significant geopolitical challenge, and a pacing threat could lead to poorly informed policies, misguided actions, and undesired outcomes.
The audience couldn’t miss the fact that Biden has previously characterized China using each of those terms.
Instead of adversaries, Xi emphasized that China wants a partnership with the United States, a “win-win” relationship.
As part of his broader outreach efforts, Xi revealed that China plans to send pandas to the San Diego Zoo. This decision comes after three pandas were recently returned to China from the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington.
““Pandas have long been envoys of friendship between the Chinese and American people,” he said. “We are prepared to further collaborate with the United States on panda conservation, striving to fulfill the wishes of Californians and further strengthen the friendly bonds between our two nations.”
The summit dinner in San Francisco, attended by prominent figures like Tim Cook and Elon Musk, marked a key moment in U.S.-China relations. With discussions emphasizing partnership over rivalry, the event showcased a diplomatic effort to strengthen ties. Xi’s announcement of sending pandas to the San Diego Zoo symbolized a commitment to fostering friendship between nations.