At the China Development Forum, Beijing is making efforts to attract foreign executives in order to revive the economy after the “zero COVID” policy. Premier Li Qiang has assured top foreign business executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, that China will open up more in the future. The annual forum, also known as China’s Davos, is attended by high-profile foreign executives such as former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Procter & Gamble CEO Jon Moeller, PwC Global Chairperson Bob Moritz, and HSBC CEO Noel Quinn.
China is currently facing a number of economic challenges, including a low birth rate, tensions with the United States, and business uncertainty due to regulatory crackdowns on various sectors. Despite these challenges, Beijing has set an economic growth target of around 5% for 2023, which is its lowest target in decades.
Chinese officials have repeatedly assured local and foreign businesses that the government supports private industry, despite the recent turn towards national security and state-led development under President Xi Jinping. During the National People’s Congress earlier this month, Premier Li pledged that entrepreneurs and businesses would enjoy a “better environment and broader space for development”.
Tim Cook’s visit to China coincides with Apple’s efforts to boost manufacturing in India and Vietnam in order to reduce its reliance on supply chains in China. This move comes amid rising geopolitical tensions with the West and crackdowns under Xi Jinping. Apple supplier Foxconn’s iPhone factory in Zhengzhou was severely impacted by repeated lockdowns last year under the “zero COVID” policy.
In Chinese state media, Cook praised China’s rapid development and expressed his belief that it will “further accelerate”. It remains to be seen how successful Beijing’s efforts to attract foreign executives will be in reviving the economy after the “zero COVID” policy.