China pledges wider market access amid growing trade tensions with US

China has been looking to cultivate its role on a global stage, especially amid a more domestically-focused US agenda under US President Donald Trump.
China has been looking to cultivate its role on a global stage, especially amid a more domestically-focused US agenda under US President Donald Trump. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's Foreign Minister said on Friday (March 2) that the world's second largest economy would look to open up wider access to its markets in 2018, amid growing trade tensions with the United States and foreign companies bemoaning unfair treatment.

Mr Wang Yi, China's Minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote in an editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper that the country would loosen restrictions on trade and investment, and integrate more closely with global standards.

"We will get more in line with international economic and trade rules, significantly widen market access, open the services sector, especially the financial sector, wider, and create a more appealing investment environment," he wrote.

The comments come amid simmering trade tensions with the United States, whose government has pushed back against what it regards as forced technology transfers to China.

US companies also say they feel increasingly unwelcome in China, with business lobbies calling for more even-handed enforcement of laws and regulations to create a level playing field for global firms.

China is also readying for its annual meeting of parliament, which opens on Monday, when President Xi Jinping is likely to cement his hold on power with a proposal to remove term limits for the office that could allow him to remain in power indefinitely.

Mr Wang said that "China's diplomacy will follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristic for a New Era", referring to President Xi's guiding political thought that has been added to the party constitution.

China has been looking to cultivate its role on a global stage, especially amid a more domestically-focused US agenda under President Donald Trump, but tight controls on investment mean many still remain sceptical about pledges to open up access.