Global media reactions to President Xi’s opening speech at China Import Expo in Shanghai

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Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the opening of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday Morning.

More than 3,000 foreign companies from 130 countries put their products on display for potential Chinese buyers at the expo.

Most of the world’s mainstream media have coverage about the opening event. The following are abstracts:

The Guardian

Xi claimed China had entered a “new round of high-level opening up” but did not make any concrete concessions likely to satisfy the White House. The Chinese leader reiterated a pledge to enforce intellectual property rights, as well as open up the country’s educational, cultural and telecommunications sectors, something officials have been promising for years, with little action taken.

“It seems largely more of the same, and unlikely to have any impact on the trade war,” said Roland Rajah, the director of the international economy programme at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

ABC

China promotes free trade at import fair, but top Trump officials skip out amid tariff war

High-level US officials are dodging the event, despite recent statements from Mr Trump that a deal with Beijing to end the escalating tariff battle could happen soon.

The Australian business community in China has expressed concern that tension in the diplomatic relationship could spill over to the trading relationship.

Bloomberg

Enthusiasm wasn’t high in the run-up to the event. While 18 heads of state or government are slated to attend, virtually all are from small economies. Of G-20 countries, only Russia is sending a head of state or government.

There’s also a notable dearth of top business chiefs. Although the event is meant to gather foreign companies to woo the Chinese consumer, global brands from Adidas to Walmart, Procter & Gamble to Uniqlo, are sending only country heads — or no senior executives at all. Starbucks Corp. CEO Kevin Johnson, whose company opens a store in China every 15 hours, won’t be attending even though he’ll be in the same city.

“This is just something from the old play book of going on a buying mission when you have problems,” said James McGregor, China chairman of the consultancy APCO Worldwide, which advises foreign companies.

Bloomberg caries two articles right after Xi’s opening speech: Xi Jinping Criticizes ‘Law of Jungle’ in Veiled Swipe at Trump and Xi to Face World Tired of Empty Promises at Big China Trade Fair.

BBC

In his  opening speech, Mr Xi pledged lower import tariffs and moves to make it easier for foreign firms to access the economy. But as is often the case it lacked specific timings.

He also didn’t address the core US complaints about Chinese trade, including the alleged theft of intellectual property from US firms and the special terms China gives to its state run companies.

There was definitely no sign that China is about to cave in the escalating trade war. Mr said the Chinese economy was “a sea”. Storms can overturn a pond, he said, but never a sea.

CNBC

During the speech, Xi repeated his rhetoric against protectionism and promoted his country as an advocate for international openness and cooperation. He discussed at length about the benefits of an open international economy and said that China is pursuing “a new round of high-standard opening up” to broaden market access to the rest of the world.

Xi also acknowledged that parts of China’s economy are facing challenges and uncertainty right now, but said the government is working quickly to address those issues and has improved in its overall ability to manage macroeconomic growth.

Chinese shares traded down: The Shanghai composite declined 1 percent while the Shenzhen composite traded down 0.67 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 2.65 percent.

AFP

Decrying “protectionism”, “isolationism” and confrontation, Xi said countries should fix their own houses before targeting others.

“They should not just point fingers at others to gloss over their own problems,” Xi said.

“They should not hold a flashlight in hand, doing nothing but highlight the weaknesses of others and not their own.” Beijing has framed the first annual China International Import Expo as a sign of its commitment to open markets despite mounting criticism to the contrary and the worsening trade war with Washington, which has seen both sides impose punitive tariffs on billions of dollars of goods.

Washington Post

For more than half an hour, Xi hit placating notes — and then steely ones.

Jim McGregor, chairman of the consultancy APCO’s Greater China practice, said the foreign business community has “heard these same things” for years from Chinese leaders.

“President Xi said nice words about free trade, openness, intellectual property protection and China’s willingness to be open to the world,” McGregor said. “But all of this will fall on deaf ears unless concrete actions begin to take place.”

“Great winds and storms may upset a pond but not an ocean,” Xi said, comparing China to a vast and immovable sea. “After 5,000 years of trials and tribulations, China is still here. Looking ahead, China will be here to stay.”

While acknowledging factors “at home and abroad” that have affected the Chinese economy, Xi said that “the Chinese people will overcome all challenges coming our way.”

By Staff editor

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