China Needs to Regain Trust With the World, James McGregor Says
(Bloomberg) -- China needs to work on its international reputation, which is “in the cellar” after its treatment of two Canadians and other issues, says James McGregor, author and chairman of APCO Worldwide Greater China.
“Right now China is looked at as very hostile and so people don’t want to go there,” McGregor said in an interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
“It used to be that you’d tick your way up to the CEO by doing a good job in China. People don’t want to go there right now. They’re worried about that place, they’re scared.”
In September, Beijing released Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who had been detained within days of the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018. The U.S. had sought Meng’s extradition from Canada to face criminal charges connected with American sanctions on Iran.
Chinese authorities repeatedly called Meng’s case “political” while insisting the Canadian detentions followed the rule of law -- all while Chinese diplomats suggested the pair would be used as bargaining chips to secure her release.
The Asian nation’s rising economic cloud has come with a deterioration in its standing among Western nations. Pew Research Center surveys show attitudes toward China becoming more unfavorable in recent years. The reasons for that include allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, vagueness over the origins of Covid-19, a border spat with India and increasing hostility toward Taiwan.
President Xi Jinping knows that China needs to remain connected to the world, McGregor said, which had led to the government “being nicer to foreign companies in China than I’ve ever seen before and I’ve lived there 30 years.”
“Why? Because they don’t want them to leave. They want the supply chains, they want the technology, they want the high-end materials so that they can build their economy, and they want to be seen as the good guys in this trade war.”
McGregor, author of books including “One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China,” said Xi has positioned himself to extend his time in power next year, when the Communist Party holds a major congress.
“It’s all about Xi, it’s all about stability,” he said, “So Mr. Xi can, you know, be the new Mao and Deng.”
The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
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