President Xi Jinping has asked former CEO Howard Schultz of Starbucks, one of the most prominent American brands in China, to help repair U.S.-Chinese relations amid a tariff war and tension over technology and security
Xi wrote to Schultz “to encourage him and Starbucks to continue to play an active role in promoting Chinese-U.S. economic and trade cooperation and the development of bilateral relations,” Xinhua reported. No text of the letter was released.
Economists and political analysts say Biden is likely to try to revive cooperation with Beijing over North Korea and other political issues. But few changes on trade are expected due to widespread frustration in Washington over China’s human rights record and accusations of technology theft.
The Cabinet press office didn’t immediately respond to questions about what Xi wanted Schultz to do and whether he contacted other American business leaders.
Schultz, who was Starbucks CEO until 2017 and chairman until 2018, led an aggressive expansion that made China its biggest market outside the United States. Starbucks says it has more than 4,700 stores and 58,000 employees in almost 190 Chinese cities.
Schultz said in 2019 that he was considering running for president as an independent but later dropped that.
Xinhua said Xi was responding to a letter from Schultz that congratulated the Chinese leader on “the completion of a well-off society” under his leadership, Xinhua said.