China’s LI sells China at Shanghai trade fair

Chinese Premier Li Qiang, during the 6th China International Import Expo in Shanghai, pledged to further deepen reforms, expand free trade zones, and ease market access for foreign investment. The goal is to invigorate China’s economy, which has recently experienced slower growth.

China’s economy expanded at a 4.9% annual pace between July and September, surpassing analysts’ forecasts but still slower than the previous quarter’s 6.3% annual growth rate. The Chinese government has taken measures to support the economy, such as increased infrastructure spending, interest rate cuts, and relaxed restrictions on home purchases. However, economists argue that broader reforms are necessary to address long-term growth challenges.

The annual China International Import Expo is aimed at attracting foreign businesses interested in trading with China and purchasing Chinese products. It was launched by President Xi Jinping in 2018 to promote China’s image as a proponent of free trade.

Premier Li emphasised the need to relax market access further and protect the rights and interests of foreign investors within the bounds of the law, striving to create a business environment that is market-oriented, legal, and international.

Foreign businesses have expressed concerns about the investment climate in China, particularly due to new legislation that could consider having standard economic forecasts as a form of espionage. This has made investing in China more challenging for many foreign companies.

This year’s expo brought Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to China, where he is focused on restoring trade links previously strained by economic and political tensions. Albanese has welcomed the reduced trade barriers that have facilitated improved relations between Australia and China.

Li also expressed China’s intention to actively pursue accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, as well as to negotiate more high-standard free trade agreements. However, Australian Prime Minister Albanese has signalled that Australia won’t support China’s bid to join the CPTPP, citing concerns about China’s standards and transparency in its treatment of detained Australian democracy blogger Yang Hengjun. Despite these differences, both sides emphasise the importance of dialogue for regional peace and prosperity.

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