Xi promises Chinese development plans won't hurt trade

·2 min read

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping tried to allay fears the ruling Communist Party’s latest development strategy might hamper trade, promising Wednesday that China will open wider and become “the world’s market.”

Plans that call for Chinese industry to pursue self-reliance in technology and focus on domestic markets and suppliers will “benefit the people of all countries,” Xi said in a speech delivered by video link to an import fair in Shanghai.

The strategy, dubbed “dual circulation,” is part of an economic blueprint announced last week for the next five years. It calls for companies to focus on domestic consumers and technology sources, or internal circulation, instead of exports and foreign suppliers, or external circulation.

The party called last week for China to become a self-reliant “technology power” at a time when a feud with Washington is cutting access to U.S. components for its fledgling makers of smartphones and other tech products.

Previous development plans have prompted complaints Chinese vendors might be subsidized or shielded from foreign competition in violation of Beijing’s free-trade commitments.

China will “adhere to the belief of opening up,” the president said. He said the “dual circulation” approach will “make China the world’s market."

Xi spoke ahead of Thursday’s opening of the third China International Import Expo, an effort to deflect complaints about curbs on foreign access to emerging Chinese industries by highlighting the country's growing status as a market for imported goods.

China was the first major economy to begin the struggle to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Retail sales edged above pre-virus levels in the quarter ending in September.

Beijing has announced market-opening measures over the past three years including ending limits on foreign ownership in auto manufacturing. But its trading partners complain Beijing limits access to finance and other industries two decades after it joined the free-trading World Trade Organization.

The Associated Press