Xi invites the world to share dividends of an even more open China
- As the trade war launched by the United States rages, the message from the Shanghai expo to global leaders, companies and business executives is one of inclusiveness and globalisation
Beijing’s intention to open the Chinese economy wider to the world and protect globalisation is no idle promise. President Xi Jinping made that plain as he launched the inaugural China International Import Expo in Shanghai yesterday, putting a figure on the nation’s total purchase of foreign goods over the next 15 years of US$30 trillion with another US$10 trillion in services. There will also be lower import tariffs and easier market access for overseas firms. The thousands of companies taking part say much about the pledge that China means business.
A slowing economy and the US trade war are good reason for such an event. Xi spoke in his opening address of the importance of inclusiveness and globalisation, sending a message without naming names to US President Donald Trump ahead of their meeting tentatively scheduled for December 1 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. But while it is hoped the talks will narrow differences, such remarks have a wider purpose; they are aimed at domestic, regional and global needs. Xi said China would promote “global mutual opening up, the stable energy source for world economic growth, a dynamic market for all countries to grow their businesses, and an active contributor to global governance reform”.
Scepticism is rife among some governments, particularly in the West. They accuse Beijing of refraining from offering time frames for reforms, not protecting intellectual property, giving special treatment to state-owned companies and imposing unfair practices. Those are among the reasons for the United States imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, and the absence of Western leaders among the 18 presidents and prime ministers at the expo’s opening. Still, those nations were represented by firms among the 3,600 participating from 172 countries and regions.
They have good reason to take part; China’s middle class is already 400 million strong and ever-growing. Consumption accounts for more than 60 per cent of economic growth, reason enough for the world’s companies to show interest. Among them are many from nations involved in the “Belt and Road Initiative” infrastructure drive, and leaders and CEOs were among those expressing enthusiasm yesterday. Foreign involvement will also inevitably lead to pressure for China’s door to be opened ever wider. But Xi also highlighted China’s resilience, pointing out its economy is a sea, not a pond.
The expo, which runs until Saturday, comes amid the 40th anniversary of China’s economic reforms that began its opening to the world. China benefited enormously, but so, too, did the global economy. The nation has entered a new phase of development and the expo signals that it is broadening market access. All willing to participate will share in the dividends.