Xi’s letter to Starbucks’ Schultz sets positive tone for China-US trade ties
Published: Jan 14, 2021 11:57 AM Updated: Jan 14, 2021 02:57 PM

A Starbucks store in Beijing's Joy City shopping mall on Tuesday. Photo: Zhang Hongpei/GT

In the reply dated on January 6, the Chinese President said that China has embarked on a new mission to build a modern socialist country and that China will offer more room for companies from around the world, including US firms such as Starbucks, according to an official statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. 

Xi also encouraged Schultz and Starbucks to continue to play a positive role in promoting economic and trade cooperation between China and the US and the development of the bilateral relationship.

Xi's letter was in reply to a letter from Schultz, in which he congratulated China on remaining on track to achieve the goal to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects under the leadership of President Xi and expressed respect to the Chinese people and culture. 

In the reply, Xi stressed that under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the 1.4 billion Chinese people have undertaken long-term arduous work to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and a modern socialist country.

Other content of Schultz's letter was not immediately clear, but the former Starbucks CEO and the company's chairman emeritus has repeatedly praised China's development prospect and expressed confidence in the company's success in the world's second-largest economy.

Starbucks did not respond to inquiry from the Global Times as of press time on Thursday.

Speaking of the Chinese market in 2016, Schultz said that "there's no doubt at some point China will exceed the US." Visiting Shanghai in July 2018, Schultz said, "I will say, unequivocally, that anyone who is betting against Starbucks in China is dead wrong." 

Schultz's positive remarks about China even drew scrutiny from US media outlets as he reportedly considered running for the US presidency in 2019 despite he said later he would not run for president. 

The reply to a "friendly face" was likely aimed at sending a strong signal, just days ahead of the Biden administration, that China was open to engage with the US business community and pursue win-win cooperation, Chinese analysts said.

Specifically, the message contains two dimensions: one, more access would be offered to foreign firms to expand the scope of cooperation; two, deepening existing cooperation, according to Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

"China is showing much willingness to cooperate, and the new [US] administration is also exploring ways of strengthening cooperation… so there are some positive signals," Gao told the Global Times on Thursday.