Safeguard vow by Xi ahead of G20 talks


China will widen market access for foreign investors and step up protection of intellectual property rights, President Xi Jinping pledged ahead of the G20 meeting of world leaders in Argentina.

"China will make efforts to open, even more, its doors to the exterior world and we will make efforts to streamline access to markets in the areas of investment and protect intellectual property," Xi said.

He was speaking before the Spanish upper house of parliament during a two-day stop in Madrid.

Xi also said the mainland plans to import US$10 trillion (HK$78 trillion) worth of goods over the next five years.

Xi made no reference to US President Donald Trump, who has said he expects to move ahead with raising tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent from the current 10 percent.

But in a joint declaration adopted after Xi's meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Spain and China said they backed an open and balanced global economy based on World Trade Organization rules, reaffirming their commitment to fighting protectionism and unilateralism.

Trump flew to Argentina yesterday for the G20 meeting amid warnings by the International Monetary Fund, among others, of the potential harm faced by the world economy from his trade wars.

Trump will press Xi to avert stepped-up tariffs by throwing open China's markets to US competition and protecting foreign companies' intellectual property.

Earlier, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer slammed Beijing for failing to offer "meaningful reform" on aggressive trade policies, and threatened tariffs on Chinese autos.

Though Xi did vow that China would boost protection of intellectual property, foreign firms in the mainland complain that such promises are all too routine and ring hollow.

At best, analysts say, there will be a temporary truce at the G20 to give both Trump and Xi something to crow about.

Meanwhile, despite some doubts that a separate planned encounter at the G20 between Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, would be going ahead, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yesterday that Washington had just "confirmed the meeting."

Trump had threatened to cancel the meeting as he expressed "deep concern" over the incident near Crimea that saw Russian security forces board and detain three Ukrainian vessels.

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