China president vows to boost imports, raps protectionism

The China International Import Expo to be held at Shanghai's National Exhibition and Convention Centre, will feature over 3,000 firms from more than 130 countries and regions this year. The firms will showcase goods and services they hope

The China International Import Expo to be held at Shanghai's National Exhibition and Convention Centre, will feature over 3,000 firms from more than 130 countries and regions this year. The firms will showcase goods and services they hope

President Xi Jinping delivered a veiled warning to the White House on Monday after pledging again to further open up China's economy to foreign competition.

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

"We will take further steps to lower tariffs, facilitate customs clearance, reduce institutional costs in import", Mr Xi said during a speech at the expo.

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

"They should not just point fingers at others to gloss over their own problems", Xi said, decrying "protectionism", "isolationism" and confrontation.

"They should not hold a flashlight in hand, doing nothing but highlight the weaknesses of others and not their own".

The European Union, which shares USA concerns over China's trade practices if not Trump's tariff strategy to address them, on Thursday called on China to take concrete steps to further open its market to foreign firms and provide a level playing field, adding that it would not sign up to any political statement at the forum.

Organisers say more than 3,000 foreign companies from 130 countries including the United States and Europe will put their products on display for potential Chinese buyers at the expo, including General Motors, Ford, Microsoft, Samsung, Walmart and Tesla.

"The economic and social well-being of countries in the world is increasingly interconnected", he said.

Foreign businesses complain about a range of policies that benefit local firms, requirements that foreign companies form joint ventures with Chinese partners, forced technology transfers, rampant intellectual property violations and restrictive red tape.

The event has drawn several foreign heads of government including Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Pakistani premier Imran Khan, though most are from small African or Asian countries dependent on China trade.

China's President Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo, in Shanghai, on November 5, 2018.

Government ministers from several other countries were also coming, but no senior U.S. officials were set to attend.

Of that total, China imported about $130bn of goods from the United States.

But US officials say that approach amounts to China buying its way out of trouble with a short-term import surge rather than real change, and Washington snubbed the gathering by not sending high-level representation.

"We will continue to broaden market access", he added.

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

Microsoft founder Bill Gates will join a business forum, but the touchy optics of attending a China import expo at a time of trade tensions means few big-name American CEOs are confirmed.

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