Xi promises to open up China to the world

President Xi Jinping has renewed his pledge to open up China’s economy and boost imports with a commitment to buy up to $30 trillion of goods and $10 trillion of services over the next 15 years.

Xi promises to open up China to the world
Speaking at the inaugural China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Mr Xi urged  “cooperation, not confrontation” in international trade. Without specifically mentioning the current trade war with the US, he gave his support to free trade and globalisation, and attacked unilateralism, according to a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP).“All the wise acknowledge that economic globalisation is a great, irreversible historic trend,” said Mr Xi. “It is a historic trend because its development won’t be swayed by human will. All countries should stick to policies to open up and oppose protectionism and unilateralism.“We need cooperation, not confrontation: we need win-win, not a one-sided win. The winner-takes-all mentality will only lead to a dead end.”

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The president made fresh promises to open up China’s economy to the outside world, including lowering import tariffs and broadening market access - a move, he said, that was “not a temporary arrangement but a long-term consideration”.The SCMP also reported Mr Xi as saying China would open up its domestic health care and education sectors, financial services, telecoms and mining, to foreign investors. “Foreign ownership caps in education and health care, where China has a huge supply gap, will be relaxed,” Mr Xi said.

The trade war

He also announced that a “tech board” would be established in Shanghai to rival Hong Kong and the Nasdaq, so that Chinese start-ups could raise funds from the capital market more easily."While Xi did not directly mention the US or President Donald Trump at any point in his 35-minute speech, the trade war set the stage. In contrast to Trump’s 'America first' policy and threats to undo the multilateral trade system, Xi tried to positionChina as an open economy and as an ardent defender of free trade," the newspaper reported.

China and the US – a new era?

Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who attended the expo, said Mr Xi’s promise of “non-discriminative investment polices”, intellectual property rights protection and import duty cuts, suggested a potential easing of tensions between China and the US.“Many of the items that he touched upon could serve as a very positive signal when he meets Trump at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires (starting on November 30). There is goodwill on both sides that we can de-escalate this terrible friction we have that can only hurt both of our countries,” Mr Schott said.But David Shambaugh, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, commented: “President Xi Jinping's speech is very much in the spirit of his Davos World Economic Forum speech last year and his Boao Forum speech in April.“In each he sings the praises of globalization and commits China to further economic opening, but much remains to be done to reduce domestic barriers to foreign firms and level the playing field. “On balance, this is a positive speech, but we always have to wait to see if the policy implementation matches Chinese leaders' oral commitments.”Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online DirectorySubscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all of the international assignments and global mobility news.