Xi says China to 'step up' market opening, raise imports

Xi has said the expo proves China is willing to reduce its huge trade surpluses with other countries

But in opening a high-profile import expo in Shanghai he provided no response to US and European complaints about technology policy and curbs on foreign business.

"CIIE is a major initiative by China to pro-actively open up its market to the world", Xi said.

China expects to import $30-trillion worth of goods and $10-trillion worth of services in the next 15 years, Xi said.

China would "foster a world-class business environment" and its doors will open "ever wider", he said. Its free-trade port on tropical island Hainan would speed up the process, while Shanghai would have greater autonomy for "free trade" trials, he said.

In Shanghai, many firms have been trying to increase sales in the Chinese market with a population of 1.4 billion.

U.S. President Donald Trump has railed against China for what he sees as intellectual property theft, entry barriers to U.S. business and a gaping U.S. trade deficit.

Beijing and Washington are locked in a bitter trade war.

Xi said China would "step up" efforts to stimulate imports, lower tariffs, ease customs clearance procedures, and implement harsh punishments for intellectual property infringements, though he was light on specifics.

At present, China's economy remains generally stable and is making good progress, Xi said, citing data including the GDP growth of 6.7 per cent in the first three quarters of 2018.

President Kenyatta said the trade expo provides a platform for more win-win partnerships.

"I never see young people worry about technology".

Earlier in the day, President Kenyatta and President Xi held bilateral talks at the Xijiao State Guest Hotel in Shanghai during which they discussed measures to strengthen trade and investment ties between Kenya and China.

Decrying "protectionism", "isolationism" and confrontation, Mr Xi said countries should fix their own houses before targeting others. "Please don't always beautify your own and point fingers at others - please don't always shine a spotlight to examine others but not yourself".

Xi's government is emphasizing the promise of China's growing consumer market to help defuse complaints Beijing abuses the global trading system by reneging on promises to open its industries.

George Magnus, a research associate at the China Centre at Oxford University, said Xi may find it hard to sell his narrative that it is an open economy with a free-trade spirit to the United States and other major trading partners because "there's a change of attitude [about China] really". "After more than 5,000 years of hardship, China is still here". While the American President has floated the possibility of a deal when he meets his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in coming weeks, the two countries remain far apart on everything from market access to government support for state-run enterprises. Government ministers from several other countries were also coming, but no senior U.S. officials were set to attend.

China sees the expo as one of this year's most important diplomatic events, along with the Boao Forum for Asia, billed as the region's answer to the World Economic Forum in Davos, and the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a Chinese-led security bloc. "With the deepening development today of economic globalisation, "the weak falling prey to the strong" and "winner takes all" are dead-end alleys". "It is a historic trend because its development won't be swayed by human will".



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