China's President Xi meets US executives in Beijing

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China's President Xi Jinping met with American business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday, as the government tries to woo foreign investors back into the country and international firms seek reassurance over new regulations.

Beijing wants to boost growth this year in the world's second largest economy, after foreign direct investment into China shrank 8 per cent in 2023 as investor concern grew over an anti-espionage law, exit bans and raids on consultancies and due diligence firms.

President Xi's increasing focus on national security has left many companies uncertain where they might step over the line, even as Chinese leaders make public overtures towards overseas investors.

Some 20 firms were invited to participate in Wednesday's gathering, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, and the meeting ran for around 90 minutes, one of the sources said.

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of private equity firm Blackstone BX.N, Raj Subramaniam, head of American delivery giant FedEx, and Cristiano Amon, the boss of chips manufacturer Qualcomm attended the meeting, according to state media.

The two sources had no immediate comment on what was discussed at the meeting, which was organised by the National Committee on US-China Relations, the US-China Business Council and the Asia Society think tank.

The three organisations did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the meeting.

The gathering took place in the East Hall of the Great Hall of the People, which is reserved for important functions. Attendees sat in a square formation around a large red, orange and green floral installation, a video released by state media showed.

The audience with Xi follows Chinese Premier Li Qiang not meeting visiting foreign CEOs at the China Development Forum in Beijing on March 24-25, which prompted concerns over transparency in the world's second-largest economy.

The chance to exchange views with Beijing's second-ranking leader had become a key element of the summit in previous years.

Wednesday's meeting followed on from a dinner in November with US executives in San Francisco, where Xi received a standing ovation.

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