China's Xi preaches 'openness' and 'cooperation' after Trump comes out swinging
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday talked up the value of international "cooperation" and economic "openness."
Xi's speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, followed an address from President Donald Trump. Trump similarly called for economic openness, but struck a harsh tone against countries he deemed guilty of "chronic trade abuses."
Xi praised many of the results of an increasingly connected world.
"Over the last few decades, economic globalization has contributed significantly to global growth. Indeed, it has become an irreversible historical trend," Xi said, according to a provided translation.
"In pursuing economic globalization, we should make it more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all," the Chinese leader told the gathering of political and business leaders.
Xi is attending the APEC meeting fresh out of last month's 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress during which he consolidated power at the top of the political totem pole. In the last year, he has also sought to market the world's second-largest economy as the flag bearer of free trade — despite the fact that many elements of China's economy are not open.
In his speech, Xi said the multilateral trading system must be improved and emphasized shared growth through consultation and collaboration.
"We should continue to foster an open economy that benefits all. Openness brings progress while self-seclusion leaves one behind," he said.
The Chinese leader added that his country will continue to open up and reform.
Xi's speech came just after China on Friday announced major steps to open its financial sector, with a vice finance minister saying the country will remove all equity ownership limits in many financial sectors after three years.
"China will not slow its steps in opening up itself. We will work together with other countries to create new drivers of common development through the launching of the 'Belt and Road' Initiative," he said, referring to China's massive plan to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network.
"We will adopt policies to promote high standards of liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment," he added.
The APEC summit is focused on regional trade with particular attention on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, from which Trump removed the U.S. early in his White House tenure.
Experts say that move elevated the importance of another regional trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that's spearheaded by China and excludes the U.S.
During his speech, Xi said China will move to conclude the RCEP trade pact talks speedily.
He also said he's looking ahead to the advancement of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, an agreement among the 21 APEC economies.
After three decades of breakneck growth, China's global influence has expanded significantly. For its part, the East Asian giant maintains it's not a threat to any country, as Xi has pledged peaceful development on the international stage.
Xi also stressed China's environmental goals during his Friday address, stepping up China's global rhetorical leadership on that front since Trump abandoned the Paris climate accord earlier this year.