Good morning, Peter Vanham here in Geneva, filling in for Alan.
Beijing is not a fan of the West “de-risking” from China and wants companies—not governments—to decide whether to deal with China, the country’s new premier Li Qiang said in his address to the global business community in the Chinese city of Tianjin on Tuesday. But Li offered little substance to reassure jittery international investors; few of them had showed up to hear his speech in the first place.
“As you know, some in the West are hyping up the so-called phraseologies of reducing dependencies and de-risking,” Li said at the World Economic Forum’s ‘Summer Davos’ in the Chinese port city. These concepts, Li said, are “false propositions.” In a globalized world, “everyone’s interests are closely entwined.” (The World Economic Forum is my former employer.)
Li, who started in his new role in March, said he favors an “open world economy” unencumbered by “overreach” or “ideological” instrumentalization by governments. “If there is risk in a certain industry, it is not [up to] a particular organization or a single government” to intervene, he said. “Businesses [should] come to their own conclusion and make their own choice” to assess such risks.
Western companies that are committed to China may find some solace in Li’s speech. The premier emphasized cooperation, dialogue, and “sincerity” to “avoid misperception and miscalculation” in China’s relationship with the rest of the world—repeating the very words U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken used last week in Beijing.
Still, the premier was long on ideals and imagery, but short on concrete initiatives. Despite emphasizing sincerity, Li never mentioned the U.S., Taiwan, semiconductors, or even Ukraine. And few U.S. investors attended Li’s speech: Americans made up less than 10% of participants at the 1,500-person meeting. Among them, there were no Fortune 500 CEOs.
Back in the U.S., meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley showed no interest in any diplomatic or economic reset in the relations with China. In a scathing op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, she instead called on the U.S. Congress to “revoke permanent normal trade relations” with China, and expressed her wish for the Chinese Communist Party to end up “on the ash-heap of history, like the Soviet Communist Party before it.”
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