China's Xi meets Zuckerberg, Cook in Beijing

 31 Oct 2017 - 9:04

China's Xi meets Zuckerberg, Cook in Beijing
A collage of file pictures of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Chinese President Xi Jingping and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Reuters

AFP

Beijing, Apple's Tim Cook and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, state media said Tuesday, as the Communist Party pushes for a larger role in private firms.

The meeting came days after Xi secured his position as China's most powerful leader since Mao and as Facebook seeks to gain entry to the massive market.

"As a beneficiary of and contributor to economic globalisation, China's development is the opportunity for the world," Xi told the annual gathering of advisers to Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Under Xi, the Communist Party has increasingly tightened its grip on state-owned companies and has asked foreign firms to include party cells in their offices.

The move has raised concerns that the party may try to create alternative power structures within companies and potentially exercise control over management decisions, as it has in the case of state-owned enterprises.

Of the more than one hundred thousand foreign-funded companies in China, 70 percent had set up party organisations by the end of 2016, according to Qi Yu, deputy head of the party's Organisation Department.

Foreign companies regularly complain about the lack of access to Chinese markets and Zuckerberg in particular has made a big show of courting the country's top leadership in hopes of convincing Beijing to relax its ban on Facebook.

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur has been photographed with a collection of Xi's writings and happily jogging across Tiananmen Square in choking pollution. He has also given a lecture in China in halting Chinese.

The company has recently begun staffing up on the mainland, but appears to have made little progress in convincing Beijing to change its mind, a prospect that seems even less likely as the country tightens social media controls.

Tsinghua University's business school has attracted a bevy of A-list advisers from the worlds of tech and finance, including Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman, Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein, and Tesla's Elon Musk, as well as China's own leading entrepreneurs, such as Alibaba's Jack Ma.