SHANGHAI (REUTERS, XINHUA) - China's accumulated imports of goods will exceed US$22 trillion (S$29.9 trillion) over the next decade, and the country is accelerating its opening up despite the global coronavirus pandemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday (Nov 4).
Mr Xi was speaking via video message at the opening ceremony of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
China opted to push ahead with its annual import fair this year, a rare in-person trade event held during the pandemic, albeit with stringent capacity limits and health restrictions.
Analysts said it was a signal that the country is open for business.
The country is set to be the only major economy to grow this year after largely bringing the epidemic under control, following its emergence in the central city of Wuhan last year.
Mr Xi said China wanted to make its market "the world's market" as it moved towards a new "dual circulation" economic model.
It will, for example, reduce the country's import restrictions, treat all companies registered in China equally and sign more trade agreements with other countries, he said.
He added that the world needed to work together, stand against unilateralism and not "throw punches" at each other as the global economy faced many challenges, especially with the pandemic.
"Covid-19 is a stark reminder that all countries are in a community with a shared future. No one can stay immune in a major crisis," said Mr Xi in his keynote speech.
"We need to trust rather than second-guess each other; we need to join hands with rather than throw punches at each other; we need to consult rather than slander each other."
Big countries need to lead by example, major economies need to act on sound principles, and developing countries should play an active part in promoting opening up and sharing responsibilities, Mr Xi added. He also called on all countries to safeguard the multilateral trading system, improve the rules of global economic governance, and build an open world economy.
Tensions between China and other countries have ratcheted up over the past year.
Its relationship with the United States has been particularly strained over topics like technology and trade, and US President Donald Trump's administration has launched a raft of sanctions against Beijing.
Mr Xi said that China will work for the early signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
The trade deal involves the 10 Asean members, including Singapore, as well as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.