China, US CEOs bullish over cooperation, development

Dalian Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin
Dalian Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin

Cooperation between Chinese and United States companies is the only way forward amid rising economic uncertainty and geopolitical risks.

That is the conclusion from some of the 13 chief executives of Chinese state-owned enterprises who met yesterday over breakfast with leaders of some of the biggest US companies at the annual World Economic Forum conclave.

Senior executives of IBM, Walmart, General Electric and Cisco Systems were among those who attended the meeting in Davos, Switzerland, while participants from China included heads of CRRC Group and China National Machinery Industry Corp.

Said Mr Liu Hualong, chairman of CRRC, the nation's only maker of high-speed locomotives: "We came to the same conclusion - that we must work together.

"We all expressed confidence over future development, cooperation and globalisation. No matter how things are changing, it is temporary and eventually, enterprises will work with one another, just as the nations will."

The meeting came one day after Chinese President Xi Jinping urged global business and political elites to reject trade wars and protectionism, in his first public rebuttal of the policies advocated by incoming US leader Donald Trump.

CHINA RISING

In the past, Chinese firms came to Davos because they needed this platform to express their views. Now it is Davos that needs people like us.

DALIAN WANDA CHAIRMAN WANG JIANLIN, on the growing clout and influence of Chinese companies.

Mr Xi called on the billionaires and political leaders present to close wealth gaps and improve financial regulation, without retreating from policies that have fuelled decades of growth.

Mr Ren Hongbin, chairman of China National Machinery, which is also known as Sinomach, said the discussion focused on uncertainties as Mr Trump prepares to take office tomorrow. "Both sides feel there are still opportunities. Most importantly, we should change the mindset of zero-sum," he said.

The presence of Chinese firms at the Swiss economic forum has grown in recent years. The appearance of Mr Xi - whose entourage includes more than 80 business executives, including Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma and Dalian Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin - is unprecedented.

Said Mr Wang: "In the past, Chinese firms came to Davos because they needed this platform to express their views. Now it is Davos that needs people like us.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'China, US CEOs bullish over cooperation, development'. Print Edition | Subscribe