Apple's Cook, Facebook's Zuckerberg meet President Xi in Beijing

Apple's Tim Cook and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Monday, as the Communist Party of China pushes for a larger role for private firms.

The meeting took place at an annual gathering of advisers to Beijing's Tsinghua University business school, state media reported. It came days after Xi secured his position as China's most powerful leader since Mao, and as Facebook seeks to gain entry to the massive market.

''As a beneficiary of and contributor to economic globalisation, China's development is the opportunity for the world,'' Xi told the annual gathering of advisers to the school. Cook and Zuckerberg are on the advisory board of the Tsinghua School of Economics and Management.

Tsinghua's business school, founded in 1984, has seen scores of top Chinese and foreign industry leaders sit on its board, including Chinese central banker Zhou Xiaochuan and Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.

Other A-list advisers from the worlds of tech and finance include Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman, Tesla's Elon Musk, and China's own leading entrepreneurs such as Alibaba's Jack Ma.

Zuckerberg has also been very active in China, eager to get his popular social network unblocked in the world's most populous nation, where it has been banned since 2009 and held behind the country's so-called Great Firewall.

Under Xi, the Communist Party has increasingly tightened its grip on state-owned companies and has asked foreign firms to include party cells in their offices.

The move has raised concerns that the party might try to create alternative power structures within companies and potentially exercise control over management decisions, as it has in the case of state-owned enterprises.

Of the more than 100,000 foreign-funded companies in China, 70 per cent had set up party organisations by the end of 2016, according to Qi Yu, deputy head of the party's Organisation Department.

Foreign companies regularly complain about the lack of access to Chinese markets and Zuckerberg in particular has made a big show of courting the country's top leadership in hopes of convincing Beijing to relax its ban on Facebook.

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur has been photographed with a collection of Xi's writings and happily jogging across Tiananmen Square in choking pollution. He has also given a lecture in China in halting Chinese.

The company has recently begun staffing up on the mainland, but appears to have made little progress in convincing Beijing to change its mind, a prospect that seems even less likely as the country tightens social media controls, according to AFP.

Contacted by Reuters, an Apple spokeswoman said the firm couldn't ''comment on Tim's schedule and or meetings''. Facebook confirmed Zuckerberg was in Beijing, but declined to comment on details of his visit.

In a post on his Facebook page on Saturday, Zuckerberg wrote he was in Beijing for the annual meeting. ''Every year this trip is a great way to keep up with the pace of innovation and entrepreneurship in China,'' he said.