Chinese president Xi Jinping has reached out to stalwart Democrat and former Starbucks Corporation CEO Howard Schultz to help mend shattered ties between China and the United States when Joe Biden becomes U.S. president.
Diplomatic and economic relations between the world's two largest economies have plummeted to their lowest level in decades thanks to outgoing President Donald Trump's blaming China for doing nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and for America's huge trade deficit, among many other sins.
Xi has written a letter 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," according to Chinese state-owned media outlet Xinhua News Agency.
Xi said China is embarking on a new journey that seeks to fully build a modern socialist country that will provide broader space for enterprises from across the world, including Starbucks and other American companies, to develop.
He hopes Starbucks will make active efforts to promote China-U.S. economic and trade cooperation, as well as the two countries' relations.
Xi wrote in reply to a letter Schultz sent him on January 6. In his letter, Schultz congratulated China on building a moderately prosperous society for its 1.4 billion persons in all respects under Xi's leadership. Schultz also expressed his respect for the Chinese people and Chinese culture.
Political analysts said Biden would be tough on China but will likely try to revive cooperation with China over key political issues, unlike Trump, who fostered confrontation. Biden is a long-time member of a foreign policy establishment that advocates engagement with China.
On the other hand, Biden is expected to make only a few changes on trade due to frustration among Democrats over China's sullied human rights record and relentless espionage against the U.S.
Biden previously promised new sanctions against Chinese firms that steal U.S. technology. He also threatens to cut-off these firms from accessing the U.S. market and the financial system.
Biden has mocked Trump's phase one trade deal with Xi, which they signed on Jan. 15, 2020, as "hollow." He has consistently blamed Trump's tariffs for accelerating the decline in American manufacturing. Biden, however, hasn't categorically said if he'll scrap or keep Trump's punitive tariffs.
"I will use tariffs when they are needed, but the difference between me and Trump is that I will have a strategy -- a plan -- to use those tariffs to win, not just to fake toughness," said Biden in May 2020.
Schultz was Starbucks CEO until 2017, chairman until 2018, and is now the company's chairman emeritus. He led an aggressive Starbucks expansion that made China the company's biggest market outside the United States. Starbucks has more than 4,700 stores and 58,000 employees in some 190 Chinese cities.
A reason why Xi wrote Schultz appears to be the latter's high standing in the Democratic Party and his cordial relationship with Biden. In 2019, Schultz considered running for president as an independent but later dropped out of the race.