On his first official state visit to the United States, Chinese president Xi Jinping aims to regain Washington’s trust on China’s commitment to fight cybercrime and hacking, as well as reassure the world that the Chinese economy and stock market are back on track.
Xi Jinping is currently on his first official state visit to the United States, which started off in Seattle with a policy speech that covered a range of topics including cybersecurity, trade relations, and China’s volatile stock market.
Xi speech seeks to diffuse tensions
Presented in front of prominent domestic and international business leaders, Xi’s speech is the only one that he will deliver while he is in the United States. But it is seen by many as a warm-up for his official state visit to Washington: in D.C., he will be participating in various talks and roundtable events. In attendance, amongst others, were Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the CEOs of Boeing and Starbucks, and Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.
A range of powerful events have preceded Xi’s speech. The world was shocked by the sudden volatility in the Chinese stock market and Beijing’s responses to said crisis. Moreover, Xi has had to diffuse tensions arising from recent allegations of spying and hacking, as reported by the Guardian. On top of this, Xi also has to contend with the political fallout from tensions in the South China Sea.
During his speech, two important points were made to reassure business leaders in the US and internationally: China is taking cybercrime seriously, and the stock market has recovered and regained stability.
Beijing committed to tackling cybercrime
With regards to the first point, Xi insisted, as China has done many times, that the government has never engaged in hacking. This claim runs counter to various accusations from both a number of governments and corporations.
Consequently, Xi was adamant on the issue, stating that “commercial cybertheft and hacking against government networks are crimes that must be punished in accordance with the law and relevant international treaties.”
Xi’s commitment to the cybersecurity issue has been a relief to many business owners, as hacking is increasingly becoming a major threat to corporate security. Many recent cases of hacking have been traced back to Chinese locations, and regaining the world’s trust is vital for China to improve its relations with global powers.
Stock market woes over, says Xi
As for Xi’s second point — the stock market and China’s slowing economy — his speech aims to reassure investors.
Recent events have put the world economy on edge and have had serious consequences in neighboring countries and other nations that depend on Chinese growth. Xi acknowledged the pressure the Chinese economy has been under, but maintained that the stock market has now recovered.
In this case too, Xi has had to regain trust as his government has received criticism for the way that it intervened in the recent stock market crash. Despite this, his speech acknowledged that intervening was necessary in order to prevent mass panic, while reassuring US business owners and leaders that the country is committed to continued economic reforms. With this, China hopes to foster positive trade relations with the US, and regain some investor confidence in its stock market.
Perhaps the most striking and somewhat entertaining element of the speech was Xi’s comment referencing popular television show House of Cards, reassuring his audience that his anti-corruption campaign was just that, and not actually an internal struggle within the party.
Whether this is true remains to be seen, as the party continues to track down economic criminals, many of whom are former party members.