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Xi's words win praise from Trump and others in US

By CHEN WEIHUA  in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-04-11 05:13
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People from US President Donald Trump to US-based experts have responded overwhelmingly favorably to Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at the Boao Forum on Tuesday.

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the annual forum being held in south China's Hainan Island, Xi voiced China's determination for further reform and opening-up, including laying out plans for some specific economic sectors.

Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he was ``very thankful for President Xi of China's kind words on tariffs and automobile barriers… also, his enlightenment on intellectual property and technology transfers. We will make great progress together!''

Amy Celico, a principal of consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group and a former senior director for China affairs at the Office of the US Trade Representative, described Xi's speech as "encouraging to many of us".

Celico noted that Xi's speech has four themes – improve the market environment; improve market access for foreign firms, improve the investment for foreigners and then provide a strengthened intellectual property protection regime in China for the benefit of foreigners and the domestic economy.

She also called it "a very restrained speech" because "it did not call out the United States," adding that Xi did speak about zero-sum mentality and Cold War mentality being so bad for the global economy.

"This speech is yet another bid by Xi Jinping to be seen as an earnest advocate of globalization and market-oriented economic reforms," said Eswar Prasad, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former China division chief of the International Monetary Fund.

He said Xi's conciliatory words on trade represent the softer part of China's response to US tariff threats, which the Chinese had earlier indicated they would match with proportionate retaliatory tariffs.

"China has thus responded to proposed US trade sanctions with a mix of conciliation and proportionate retaliation, putting the ball back in the US court," he said.

Prasad said the Trump administration now has the opportunity to get the bilateral trade negotiations back on track and move toward an outcome that would be acceptable to and in the interest of both sides.

"Every time we have a statement from a head of the state that reiterated their commitment to opening up, we welcome that," saidKenneth Jarrett, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

But he said to the American business community on the ground in Shanghai, what's more important is to see the tangible results.

Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, attended the Boao forum when Xi spoke. "It was very strong pro-globalization, defense of China's past opening up. He outlined four additional areas of liberalization," he said.

Lardy expressed that he wants to learn more specifics on how soon the measures will be implemented.

Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, echoed the view about knowing more about the specifics, including if Beijing has delivered private messages to Washington about the timetable and scope of the reforms Xi laid out.

Steve Orlins, president of the National Committee on US-China Relations, voiced his deep concerns over the rhetoric in the US National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy regarding China.

"And I think it's important for the strategic community in Washington to talk about whether that's the right policy for the United States. Do we really want to go down this path, branding China a strategic competitor?" he said.

Orlins believes that Xi basically said that China is still open and will defend itself. "We are not going to provoke anything, but if the United States wants to come to be confrontational, we are prepared to respond," he interpreted Xi's words as saying.

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