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U.S. CEOs Flock To China In Wake Of Country’s Reopening

Corporate heads, including Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, look to take advantage of China's post-COVID market opportunities 
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Nvidia Corp.’s (NASDAQ:NVDA) CEO Jensen Huang is rumored to be visiting China on Tuesday for the first time in four years. Incidentally, a slew of corporate head honchos have been heading to the country.

What Happened: China has held out a lot of promise for U.S. companies, given its status as a preferred base for production and its sizable market opportunity.

China’s economy grew 4.5 percent in the first three months of the year as the country reopened after dropping strict health controls that helped keep the coronavirus in check but battered businesses and supply chains. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Here are a few top corporate executives who visited China in recent months:

  • Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk: The billionaire traveled to China on Tuesday and departed from the country on Thursday, completing a two-day whirlwind visit. During his visit, he met with several key Chinese government officials and stopped by Tesla’s Giga Shanghai factory.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s (NYSE: JPM) Jamie Dimon: Dimon was in China in the past week in connection with a three-day JPMorgan Global China Summit in Shanghai. During his visit, he called for real engagement between the U.S. and China on trade and security issues.
  • Coffee retail chain Starbucks Corp. (NYSE: SBUX) CEO Laxman Narasimhan: Narasimhan, who assumed the role of CEO on March 20, visited China last week. China is Starbucks’ second-largest market after the U.S. More importantly, the China visit marked Narasimhan’s first overseas trip outside of North America.
  • General Motors Corp.’s (NYSE:GM) Mary Barra was in China in late May and met with officials in Shanghai in connection with investments in the country.
  • Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook: The Apple CEO was in China in late March and met with China’s commerce minister Wang Wentao to discuss industrial and supply chain stabilization.
  • Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE) CEO Alberta Bourla: The pharma giant CEO visited China in late March. During the visit, the company signed an agreement with China to improve health coverage in the country.


Victoria Harbor and Central Financial District, Hong Kong, China. (Photo by: Bob Henry/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

China Lure: Most of the company heads are visiting China for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trips follow the country’s recent reopening. China, as the second-largest economy in the world and the second-most populous country, is a key market for many of these multinational corporations.

The country is also known for its skilled and cheap workforce, which makes manufacturing cheaper in the country. Tesla’s cheapest cars come from its Shanghai Giga factory. Apple still has a majority of its supply chain in China despite its best efforts to diversify away from the country due to simmering U.S.-China tensions and COVID-19 disruptions.

Beijing, for its part, has welcomed to corporate leaders as China works to prop up its economy following COVID-19 disruptions. The development also reflects a breakdown of U.S-China relations, which are at the lowest point in decades, a Financial Times report said.

“At a more strategic level, Beijing is trying to demonstrate that it is open for business, in defiance of what it says are U.S. containment efforts through export controls on high-technology items such as semiconductors,” the report said, citing analysts.

Despite the cordiality seen between China and corporate chiefs, government-level discussions between the two countries have been abysmally weak. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in early February postponed indefinitely a planned visit to China following the spy balloon incident.

Produced in association with Benzinga

Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Sterling Creighton Beard

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