Xi pledges to ‘step up’ opening China’s markets as criticism grows
President Xi Jinping vowed Monday to open access to China's economy, while delivering a veiled rebuke to the Trump administration, as he kicked off an import fair amid growing foreign accusations that his government was backtracking on reform pledges.Xi said China would seek to "step up" moves to stimulate domestic consumption of imports, lower tariffs, ease customs clearance procedures, and implement harsh punishments for intellectual property infringements, among other measures. "We will foster a world-class business environment," Xi said in an address opening the import fair in Shanghai. But he also pushed back at the foreign pressure in comments clearly aimed at US President Donald Trump, who has launched a trade war between the world's two largest economies. 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. Organisers say more than 3,000 foreign companies from 130 countries including the United States, Europe and across Asia, will put their products on display for potential Chinese buyers at the expo. Companies in attendance include General Motors, Ford, Microsoft, Samsung, Walmart and Tesla. The event is being attended by several foreign heads of government including Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Pakistani premier Imran Khan.