Chinese President Xi Jinping told an international import fair that his country would reduce tariffs and investment barriers, and urged critics of the country's business practices to solve their own problems before complaining about China.
Government officials and executives from 172 countries and international institutions are in Shanghai for the weeklong exhibition, which China hopes to show its commitment to expand imports in the face of the trade dispute with the US.
The US and Western European countries rejected the deployment of high-level delegations and shifted the focus of the event to developing countries where China wanted to position itself as the leader of a single bloc. Around 450 Japanese companies were present to extend relations between Beijing and Tokyo.
"Every country should work hard to improve its business environment. You can not always beautify yourself while criticizing others, and you can not illuminate other people with a flashlight without looking at yourself. "Said Xi.
The Shanghai government, which co-hosted the forum with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said Monday and Tuesday would be public holidays to facilitate traffic and increase security in the city. Mr. Xi said that the Expo would be an annual event.
However, his speech covered details and new commitments, which largely echoed the commitments made by Boaro in March and Davos in January 2017.
Mr. Xi promised further opening measures in the fields of telecommunications, medical care, education and culture, but did not elaborate on it. He predicted that over the next 15 years, China would import $ 30 billion worth of goods and services worth $ 10 billion – a figure that does not significantly accelerate China's current import path.
Foreign executives and diplomats say privately that they are wary of vague obligations and waiting for specific market access and intellectual property reforms.
"Significant progress can only be made if major structural challenges are addressed positively and international companies can compete on equal terms with domestic companies," said Carlo D'Andrea, vice-president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
"The (Expo) may help many countries reduce their trade deficits with China, but it will not help Shanghai become a global center, or China, to reduce its internal reform deficit."
He added that China will support "necessary" World Trade Organization reforms to protect the multilateral trading system.
Mr. Xi's speech came as new data pointed to a slowdown in China's services sector in October, with the purchasing managers index for Caixin Markit services reaching a 13-month low. Equities across Asia were also on the decline on Monday, with declines in the major indices in the region.
In the light of concerns over technological competition, Xi Xi committed to greater protection of intellectual property, including a stronger penalty for infringement. Mr. Xi also sought to alleviate concerns about a slowdown in the Chinese economy and to point out the stimulus measures adopted in recent months.
"Uncertainty has increased in some areas, the operational difficulties of some companies have multiplied, and the risk challenges have increased in some areas," said Xi. "These are problems encountered in progress. We take active measures to tackle them and the result is already evident. "
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