China's Xi Jinping to make his first visit to Shanghai since 2021: Report
Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit the Shanghai Futures Exchange and several technology giants operating in the mega-city on Tuesday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Shanghai for the first time since the financial hub’s bruising two-month Covid lockdown, local media reported, as he tries to boost waning private sector sentiment.
Xi is scheduled to visit the Shanghai Futures Exchange and several technology giants operating in the mega-city on Tuesday, the South China Morning Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter. He will also urge officials to boost market liberalization to spur cross-border trade and capital flows during his three-day trip, according to the Monday report.
The Chinese leader’s first public visit to Shanghai since November 2020 sends a powerful signal about his determination to reinvigorate investor confidence roiled by abrupt crackdowns and geopolitical turmoil, as China’s pandemic exit weighs on growth.
Xi vowed to make life easier for foreign investors at an economic summit in California this month, where he sat down with US President Joe Biden in a bid to steady ties between the world’s largest economies.
Shanghai is also home to several of the nation’s leading tech firms, which are key to Beijing’s ability to counter US efforts to throttle its access to future technologies, such as cutting-edge chips.
While the Post’s report didn’t specify which firms Xi would visit, Shanghai-based semiconductor stocks including Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., Hua Hong Semiconductor Ltd. and Will Semiconductor Co. rose Monday on the news of the trip.
“I believe the visit aligns with the government’s strategy to bolster chip autonomy in the future,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Charles Shum. “As China’s most advanced chipmaker, SMIC is well-positioned to gain a larger market share, particularly in mature node chips, bolstered by increased state support.”
The ruling Communist Party’s recent overtures to foreign investors have been met with skepticism, after years of policy swings. One measure of foreign investment into China turned negative for the first time since records began in 1998 in the third quarter.
The tech sector has been particularly bruised, with a Communist Party crackdown wiping out billions in market value from firms. China signaled an end to that campaign earlier this year, and Xi’s visit to companies will be closely watched for further signs of reassurance.
Shanghai is a major outpost for some of China’s biggest tech operations, including SMIC, which made the 7nm processor hailed as a major triumph after years of US sanctions. Other major firms include AI firm SenseTime Group Inc., which has approval to roll out large-language models to the public, and e-commerce upstart PDD Holdings Inc.
The Chinese leader’s stop at the Shanghai Futures Exchange is likely to show the importance he attaches to energy security, said Bruce Pang, chief economist at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. The exchange runs commodity warehouses in the city’s free-trade zone, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2023.
China locked down Shanghai for more than 60 days last year to contain the coronavirus, severely hurting firms’ operations. The city of 25 million was among the dozens around the nation that experienced protests in late 2022 partly due to discontent with Covid measures.
Xi’s visit to the commercial hub comes as Chinese officials are expected to hold the annual Central Economic Work Conference next month to flesh out policy objectives for the coming year.
That will likely include setting strategies to stabilize the nation’s faltering property sector, after previous measures failed to arrest the slump in the market.