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Global Times

China to take concrete steps to further open up

Global Times

By Wang Cong in Beijing, Wang Jiamei and Xie Jun in Shanghai Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/6 0:03:40

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday opened a major import fair that has been described as an epitome of China's continuing reform and opening-up efforts in Shanghai, where he underscored the country's steadfast commitment to economic globalization and vowed to further open the vast Chinese market to foreign businesses.

The opening of the Second China International Import Expo (CIIE), which has attracted many world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and thousands of companies, offered a vivid rebuttal to unfounded yet growing criticism of China's reform measures, particularly from the US, analysts noted.

In an apparent response to criticism of China failing to follow up on its commitments, Xi stressed in a speech at the expo that China will live up to its promises regarding market reforms and opening-up.

"We do honor our commitments and we will deliver on what we have promised," the president said after listing progress on various initiatives over the past year.

Steadfast progress

Since the first expo, China has "by and large" put in place initiatives to further open up the market, expanded the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), set up six other FTZs across the country and adopted a Foreign Investment Law that guarantees enhanced protection and wider market access for foreign investors, according to Xi.

Of the 98 initiatives agreed upon with foreign leaders at last year's expo, 23 have been completed, 47 are making good progress and 28 are on track of steady implementation, the president said.

"One has to admit that when others, particularly the US, are closing their doors, China is opening up," Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday, noting that China's efforts should be seen in the context of rising global trade protectionism.

While China continues to carry out reform and opening-up measures for its domestic economy and introduce initiatives to aid economic globalization, the US, under its protectionist agenda, has waged a trade war with China and other major economies, casting a dark cloud over the global economy.

The US did not send a high-level government delegation to the expo but was apparently the main target of criticism.

In a speech at the opening ceremony on Tuesday morning, Macron blasted "unilateral action, the use of tariffs as a weapon" without naming the US and said that the US-initiated trade war with China would "only create losers."

Xi also stressed China's unwavering support for economic globalization, which he said is "the trend of history" that nothing can stop.

"We need to join hands with each other instead of letting go of each other's hands. We need to tear down walls, not to erect walls," he said.

The CIIE offered a great platform for foreign companies to engage with Chinese partners.

Dong Chongqing, a senior marketing manager for Kohler Engines, said that the US manufacturing company signed a deal for 600 power generators at last year's expo and this year the company expected to sign a deal for 900.

"Overall, we feel [the Chinese environment] is very friendly to us," Dong said, noting that implementation of those deals was "very smooth."

Last year intended deals worth more than $57.8 billion were signed, according to official data. This year, the expo attracted nearly 4,000 companies from 155 countries and regions, including more than 190 from the US. More deals are expected this year.

Further opening-up

In his speech, President Xi also announced initiatives in five areas to rake China's opening-up to an even higher level, including lowering tariffs and other costs on imports, seeking greater synergy of opening-up among different parts of the country, improving the business environment and expanding multilateral and bilateral cooperation.

"Standing at a new historical starting point, China will open its door only wider to the world," Xi said.

Xi's words offered further encouragement for participating foreign businesses and industry representatives.

"President Xi Jinping's speech on the opening-up, cooperation and development at CIIE 2019 encourages us a lot, and in the future, we will continue our commitment in China," Henry Liu, vice president and general manager of US-based Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies Asia Pacific, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Going forward, China will likely focus on two areas for further opening-up: further reducing tariffs on commodities and expanding access for foreign investment, particularly in the services sector, according to Liang Ming, a research fellow at the Ministry of Commerce's Chinese academy of international trade and economic cooperation.

"To push for all-round opening, [China] needs to open up the services sector and further cut the negative list for foreign investments," Liang told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Wang Hao, president of Germany's Siemens Healthineers in China, told the Global Times on Tuesday, "We're very glad to see the Chinese government's unremitting efforts to provide a friendly and vibrant business environment as well as great innovation capacity for foreign companies."

Ma Jingjing contributed to the story.

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