Xi vows to protect IPR, further open Chinas economy amid trade row with US

By K J M Varma

Beijing, Apr 10 (PTI) Chinese President Xi Jinping today pledged to lower auto import tariffs, protect the intellectual property of foreign companies and further open the worlds second largest economy, apparently addressing the concerns of US President Donald Trump as the two countries edged towards an all-out trade war.

In his keynote address at the Boao Forum for Asia after he began his second five-year term last month with prospects of continuing in power for life, Xi said, "Chinas door of opening up will not be closed and will only open wider."

Without mentioning Trumps concern over the huge trade deficit, Xi said China does not seek trade surplus and have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account.

Trump has been demanding China to cut down USD 375 billion trade deficit by USD 100 billion in about a month.

He promised that China will take measures to liberalise automobile investment, significantly lower the import tariffs on cars and protect intellectual property, indirectly addressing major complaints by the US amid the trade row.

In a veiled attack on Trump for the escalation of trade conflict between the two countries, Xi said that a zero-sum game will "get nowhere".

"Putting oneself on a pedestal or trying to immune oneself from adverse developments will get nowhere," Xi said at the meeting at southern Chinese city of Boao.

Xi said, "humanity has a major choice to make between openness and isolation, and between progress and retrogression."

"We must dispel the clouds to see the sun, as we say in Chinese, so as to have a keen grasp of the law of history and the trend of the world," Xi said.

"We live at a time with an overwhelming trend toward peace and cooperation as well as openness and connectivity," he said in his address telecast live all over the country.

"We also live at a time with an overwhelming trend toward reform and innovation, adding that those who reject them will be left behind and assigned to the dustbin of history," he said at the meeting attended by over 2,000 heads of state, governments and business leaders and global think-tanks.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Mongolian Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde are attending this years forum.

"We will take the initiative to expand imports," Xi said, emphasising that China will work hard to import more products that are competitive and needed by the Chinese people.

China will also seek faster progress toward joining the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, he said.

He invited all countries to participate in the major import expo being held by China at Shanghai in November this year.

"It is not just another expo in an ordinary sense, but a major policy initiative and commitment taken of our own accord to open up the Chinese market," he said.

He expressed hope that developed countries will stop imposing restrictions on "normal and reasonable" trade of high-tech products and relax export controls on such trade with China.

The worlds top two economies had edged towards an all-out trade war after Trump administration last week published a list of about 1,300 Chinese exports worth USD 50 billion that could be hit by US tariffs because of Beijings alleged theft of intellectual property and technology.

China in a retaliatory measure, decided to impose additional tariff of 25 per cent on 106 products under 14 categories worth USD 50 billion.

China has already slapped tariffs on 128 US products, including wine and pork, totalling to USD 3 billion in retaliation to Trumps move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Xi today promised to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), a major demand by Trump as China is accused of stealing the technology of international investors in the country.

"IPR protection is the centrepiece of the system for improving property rights protection, and it would provide the biggest boost to enhancing the competitiveness of the Chinese economy," Xi said.

"Stronger IPR protection is the requirement of foreign enterprises, and even more so of Chinese enterprises," he said.

"We encourage normal technological exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign enterprises, and protect the lawful IPR owned by foreign enterprises in China," he said.

Striking a nationalistic tone, Xi heaped praise on Chinese people for transforming the country into worlds second largest economy after US.

"Today, the Chinese people can say with great pride that reform and opening-up, Chinas second revolution if you like, has not only profoundly changed the country but also greatly influenced the whole world," he said. PTI KJV PMS AKJ PMS PMS