“Mr. Xi and the party will be seen as unable to defend China’s economic future” if the confrontation with the United States does major damage to Huawei and throws off China’s rollout of the next generation of wireless technology, called 5G, Mr. Triolo added.
More broadly, the warnings also seemed to be an attempt to forestall a fast breakup of the sophisticated supply chains that connect China’s economy to the rest of the world. Production of a vast array of electronic components and chemicals, along with the assembly of electronic products, makes the country a cornerstone of the operations of many of the world’s largest multinational companies.
As the trade relationship between the United States and China has broken down, fears have risen in China that major companies will seek to move production elsewhere to avoid longer-term risks. In the meetings this week, Chinese officials explicitly warned companies that any move to pull production from China that seemed to go beyond standard diversification for security purposes could lead to punishment, according to the two people.
The Chinese officials appeared to have differing messages for the companies, depending on whether they were American or not, the people added.
To those from the United States, they warned that the Trump administration’s move to cut off Chinese companies from American technology had disrupted the global supply chain, adding that companies that followed the policy could face permanent consequences. The Chinese authorities also hinted that firms should use lobbying to push back against the government’s moves.
“The Chinese government has regularly resorted to jawboning multinationals to try to keep them in line when there are disputes between China and others that could lead these companies to reduce their business in China,” Mr. Kennedy said.
The Chinese agencies did not respond to requests for comment.
In the past, China has used America’s tech behemoths as a tool of diplomacy. For example, during a high-profile visit to the United States in 2015, Mr. Xi stopped in Seattle before heading to Washington. There, he met with a who’s who of American and Chinese tech executives as a way to emphasize the depth of the countries’ economic ties, even as President Barack Obama’s administration sought to chart a course that would push back against China’s anticompetitive trade practices and investment rules.