The Xinhua State News Agency reported on Thursday that Chinese President Xi Jinping had written to Schultz encouraging the US billionaire and global coffee giant, which he ran for years, to improve economic and trade relations.
Xi’s letter was in response to a message from the US businessman.
According to a person familiar with the matter, Schultz recently sent the Chinese president a translated copy of his latest book, “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America.” The correspondence contained a letter to Xi, which pointed to Starbucks̵
7; many years of commitment to China and its employees there, the person added.
Starbucks referred a request for comment from CNN Business to Schultz’s representative, who did not immediately respond outside normal U.S. business hours.
According to Xinhua, Xi suggested that Schultz and Starbucks (SBUX) “continue to play a positive role in promoting” relations between the two countries. Xi also stressed that China was working to further open up to “companies from around the world, including Starbucks and other US companies,” the agency reported.
Schultz resigned as chairman of Starbucks in 2018, after which he took over the honorary title of chairman emeritus. At the time, he said he was exploring an election for president as an independent candidate in 2020. These plans were eventually rejected.
Schultz is open about political issues. During his four decades at Starbucks, he positioned the company as a progressive master of American business.
Schultz has also addressed ties between the United States and China. In 2018, he lamented the effects of the trade war, saying U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would not help U.S. jobs. China is Starbucks’ largest overseas growth market.
“Every time we have had a trade conflict and there have been trade wars, it has resulted in a downturn in the US economy,” he told CNN at the time. “That’s what I really believe in. The country [of] America should not build walls of any kind. We were going to build bridges. “