Chinese President Xi Jinping received a standing ovation from American business leaders during an exclusive dinner in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Xi met with President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in San Francisco Wednesday and had talks on a broad range of issues, including military communications, fentanyl trafficking and Taiwan. During a private dinner in the city’s downtown Hyatt Regency hours later, Xi gave a speech about the need for China-U.S. cooperation and received praise from hundreds of high-level American business executives.

“China is pursuing high-quality development, and the United States is revitalizing its economy,” Xi said during his speech. “There is plenty of room for our cooperation.”

Among the leaders at the reception and dinner were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, Tesla and X CEO Elon Musk and a number of executives from FedEx, Qualcomm, KKR, Blackstone and Boeing, according to The Wall Street Journal. Tickets to attend the dinner started at $2,000 per person, up to $40,000 for a chance to dine with Xi at his table.

“I think it’s important Americans and Chinese are meeting again face to face,” said managing director for China of McLarty Associates John L. Holden, who attended the dinner, according to The New York Times. “This is not a magic bullet, but it is something that can provide possibilities that wouldn’t exist otherwise.”

“All of you here this evening remain keenly interested to do business in China, and to find ways to advance our bilateral economic relationship,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told the audience at the dinner, CNBC reported. “I know that, because half of you have come to see me to tell me that.”

During his speech, Xi claimed that China is “ready to be partners and friends” rather than adversaries with the U.S, according to the Times. He also evoked China’s history with the U.S., recalling American and Chinese cooperation to defeat the Japanese during World War II.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom gifted Xi a Golden State Warriors Basketball jersey during the dinner, according to a Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesperson in attendance.

In his meeting with Biden hours prior, Xi agreed to reestablish military-to-military communication lines with the U.S., which had been cut off in February. Xi also agreed to take steps to “dramatically curtail” the creation of fentanyl precursors created in China, which often end up in Mexico to be made into completed products and are subsequently trafficked into the U.S.

Biden praised his Wednesday meeting with Xi and then called him a “dictator” minutes later.

“Well, look, he is,” Biden said during a press conference Wednesday.

The White House and China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jake Smith on November 16, 2023

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