Xi Jinping pledges to further open China market, boost imports

Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre) with members of a global chief executive committee before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Thursday. Mr Xi said foreign capital had played an important role in China’s reform.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre) with members of a global chief executive committee before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Thursday. Mr Xi said foreign capital had played an important role in China’s reform. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

He slams trade protectionism, with Beijing warning US against levying tariffs

BEIJING • Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to continue to broaden market access and expand imports as part of the country's efforts to pursue a higher quality of openness.

Mr Xi made the remarks on Thursday while meeting global business leaders at the Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. Mr Xi said all the business leaders at the meeting had contributed to and benefited from the Chinese policy. Foreign capital, he said, had played an important role in the country's reform and opening-up, adding that China's door will not close, but open even wider.

Mr Xi said China would continue to ease restrictions on market access, create a more attractive environment for investment, take more measures to protect intellectual property, and establish an easier and more orderly environment for domestic and foreign investors.

In the past four decades, China had experienced great changes with its economy growing rapidly and over 700 million people being lifted out of poverty by United Nations standards, he said. Opening-up, he noted, had been the key to China's development. He encouraged international companies to cooperate with Chinese enterprises.

Commenting on the global economy, Mr Xi said trade protectionism had risen. Likening the international community to a global village, he said countries should not engage in zero-sum games. International rules, the President said, should be jointly written by all countries, with the fruits of development to be shared by all.

His comments came as the United States and China, the world's two largest economies, have been embroiled in an escalating trade war.

US President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to hit US$200 billion (S$272 billion) of Chinese imports with 10 per cent tariffs if China retaliated against his previous targeting of US$50 billion in imports.

China's Commerce Ministry on Thursday accused the US of being "capricious" over bilateral trade issues, and warned that the interests of US workers and farmers would ultimately be hurt by Washington's penchant for brandishing "big sticks".

Amid the war of words, Chinese state media yesterday kept up the offensive. In an editorial, the official China Daily said US protectionism was self-defeating and a "symptom of paranoid delusions" that must not distract China from its path to modernisation. The English-language paper said the US had failed to understand that the business it does with China supported millions of American jobs. Citing research by the Rhodium Group, it said Chinese investment in the US had declined 92 per cent to US$1.8 billion in the first five months of the year, its lowest level in seven years.

"The woes the administration is inflicting on Chinese companies do not simply translate into boons for US enterprises and the US economy," it said. "The fast-shrinking Chinese investment in the US reflects the damage being done to China-US trade relations... by the trade crusade of Trump and his trade hawks," it added.

The Global Times, a widely read tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said China should keep promoting its own economic development and ensure its growth exceeds that of the US in both quantity and quality. "As long as China can effectively utilise its successful policies and experiences accumulated since the reform and opening-up, and avoid subversive mistakes, the country will see robust momentum for development," it said.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2018, with the headline 'Xi pledges to further open China market, boost imports'. Print Edition | Subscribe