Xi pledges to 'step up' opening China's markets as criticism grows

President Uhuru Kenyatta meets China president Xi Jinping in Shanghai on Saturday

President Uhuru Kenyatta meets China president Xi Jinping in Shanghai on Saturday

Foreign business surveys indicate the playing field is worsening as Xi champions a strong-China message not unlike Trump's "America First" platform.

Howver, he said he was only open to what he called a "fair agreement".

Speaking at an worldwide business fair in Shanghai, Xi Jinping criticised what he termed Washinton's "law of the jungle" and "winner takes all" approach to trade which, he said, leads to 'a dead end'.

"We will take further steps to lower tariffs, facilitate customs clearance, reduce institutional costs in import", Mr Xi said during a speech at the expo.

Ma, who recently took back an earlier pledge to create a million jobs in the United States - blaming the trade war launched by Donald Trump - made the comments in a panel discussion at the massive expo in Shanghai.

Nations "should not just point fingers at others to gloss over their own problems", Xi said, decrying "protectionism", "isolationism" and "the law of the jungle".

"They should not hold a flashlight in hand, doing nothing but highlighting the weaknesses of others and not their own".

The US and European Union business lobbies in China, and the French and German ambassadors to Beijing, last week called on China to use the expo to announce concrete change, saying it too often fails to deliver on promises.

President Xi Jinping promised Monday to open China wider to imports at the start of a high-profile trade fair meant to rebrand the country as a global customer, but he offered no response to USA and European complaints about technology policy and curbs on foreign business.

But critics say Xi is yet to put his money where his mouth is and they are exhausted of empty promises.

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But he said Xi's latest comments came "with few specific solutions" and that the chamber wants to see the "rhetoric" match by actions. "It's a great opportunity for the world", he said.

Foreign businesses have complained about a range of preferential polices that benefit Chinese firms, requirements that foreign companies form joint ventures with Chinese partners, forced technology transfers, rampant intellectual property violations and various restrictive red tape measures.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and other foreign political leaders attended the opening ceremony.

The CIIE, hosted by the Chinese Commerce Ministry and Shanghai Municipal People's Government, will last through November 10.

Trump on Monday said the trade conflict with China could still go either way.

China ranks 59th out of the 62 countries evaluated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of openness to foreign direct investment.

Both are seen as eyeing new ways into China's giant market.

Uhuru has been one of the chief guests at the China International Import Expo, the first such event in China that has attracted participants from over 130 countries, among them Kenyan horticultural farmers and traders.

The six-day event starting Monday is the world's first import-themed national-level expo.

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