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U.S. CEOs Invite Chinese Counterparts To Business Roundtable


We're joined now by Dean Garfield, who heads the Information Technology Industry Council. It lobbies for tech companies, and he is the keynote speaker tomorrow at a forum in Seattle that'll be attended by CEOs from the U.S. and China. Welcome to the program.

DEAN GARFIELD: Thanks, Ari. It's good to be here.

SHAPIRO: Are you expecting any tension between the American side and the Chinese side during these meetings?

GARFIELD: I'm expecting it to be a direct and honest conversation about how U.S.-China, as well as the private sector, can collaborate on solving some of the bigger challenges that we face globally, including on cyber-security.

SHAPIRO: Collaboration suggests that nobody is doing anything wrong. But when you hear President Obama and others talk about this issue, there is a bit of finger-wagging going on - no finger-wagging in this meeting?

GARFIELD: I think there will be. Collaboration suggests that there are difficult issues to talk about, but there's room to make progress. And that is our expectation.

SHAPIRO: We've also heard about the notion of economic sanctions against China. From your perspective, how do business CEOs feel about that?

GARFIELD: Whether sanctions occur or not is not something that our businesses can control. What we can control is the engagement with China and making clear that what we desire is a level playing field.

SHAPIRO: You say you can't control whether or not there are sections, of course, but do you have a preference?

GARFIELD: There are diversed opinions on whether sanctions would work or whether they would not. That's a tactical issue, and much of what we're focused on is the broader strategic engagement and making sure that that becomes one that's more constructive and more welcoming to global companies, whether they're based in the U.S. or based elsewhere.

SHAPIRO: From your perspective as head of a tech industry group, is the issue of intellectual property theft getting better or worse?

GARFIELD: I think all of the data is suggests that it is getting worse, and so it's an important issue that has to be addressed in China and as well globally.

SHAPIRO: We also heard that S&P 500 companies get 2 percent of their revenue from China. That being the case, why is this relationship so important as you say?

GARFIELD: It is important for a number of reasons. So the data that you shared is the reality today, but the reality is also that China is the second-largest economy in the world. It has over 700 million people who are on the Internet, and it has nearly 20 million people that are moving into urban centers every year. And that is the expectation for at least the next five years. And so the economic imperative is clear. The partnerships that exist there and the business that occurs there and the growing global integration of the world economy necessitates competing in China as well as everywhere else in the world.

SHAPIRO: And so if you could just pull back the curtain a little bit, are we seeing people during this visit deemphasizing the issue of intellectual property theft because they want to encourage the Chinese, they want to encourage Xi Jinping to make changes that he has expressed support for and they're worried about poisoning the waters if they emphasize intellectual property threat too much?

GARFIELD: I don't think there's a - the emphasis on IP theft at all. I think that there are a whole range of issues that are important for businesses to be successful in China, that being one very important one. It will get discussed, but the other important issues will get discussed as well.

SHAPIRO: That's Dean Garfield. He's president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council. Thanks very much for speaking with us.

GARFIELD: You're welcome. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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