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China's Xi promises reform in event with US business leaders

October 31, 2017 - 12:10 AM

BEIJING - President Xi Jinping has promised to open China's economy wider during a meeting with American business leaders ahead of a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump amid trade tensions.

Xi spoke Monday to members of an advisory board to Beijing's Tsinghua University business school that included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Blackstone Group chairman Stephen Schwarzman.

During the event at the Great Hall of the People, the ceremonial seat of China's government, Xi promised to "introduce a series of initiatives to promote and expand opening up," the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

A key Communist Party meeting last week elevated Xi to the highest status among Chinese leaders, adding his name to the party constitution alongside those of Mao Zedong, founder of the communist government in 1949, and Deng Xiaoping, who launched economic reforms in 1979.

At the congress, Xi promised more open markets and support for entrepreneurs but also affirmed plans to build up state-owned companies that dominate industries, including banking, energy and telecoms.

The United States and other trading partners are pressing Beijing to give their companies more access to its state-dominated economy. Trump's administration is investigating whether Beijing improperly pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

Xi said he looked forward to Trump's visit, according to Xinhua.

"China is willing to work with the United States to jointly promote Sino-American co-operation with mutual care for each other's interests and concerns and properly resolve differences," the president was quoted as saying. "We are optimistic about the prospects for Chinese-U.S. relations."

Still, Xi stressed that national security and sovereignty also were priorities for Beijing.

"China will firmly uphold its own sovereignty, security and development interests at the same time," he was quoted as saying.

China has steadily tightened controls on internet use and data, prompting complaints by business groups that it is improperly using national security concerns to shield its technology industries from competition.

On Monday, the Chinese internet regulator called on website operators to improve employee training to ensure they "adhere to Marxist principles" and the "correct political direction."

Previous censorship measures have hurt companies, including some with U.S.-traded shares. Three popular internet services were ordered to stop streaming video in June after regulators complained they allowed improper comments on sensitive issues. That triggered a fall in the shares of Sina Corp. and its microblog service, Sina Weibo.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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