GENEVA — China President Xi Jinping said in Geneva Wednesday that the world should champion global trade rules and steer away from protectionism.
“We should uphold World Trade Organization rules, support an open, transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory multilateral trading regime and build an open world economy, ” Xi said in a keynote address at the United Nations European Headquarters here attended by U.N. chief António Guterres, heads of international agencies and business leaders.
“Trade protectionism and self-isolation will benefit no one. Economic globalization has greatly facilitated trade and investment, the flow of people and technological advances.”
The pro-economic globalization remarks by Xi mark a turning point in multilateral diplomacy, as leadership of global trade rules has been championed for decades by successive U.S. administrations.
Xi said China “will continue to pursue a win-win policy of opening up,” and noted in the next five years China is expected to import $8 trillion worth of goods, attract $600 billion in foreign investment and make $750 billion in outward investments.
Trump has promised to take a hard line with China on trade, threatening to impose tariffs as high as 35 percent on Chinese imports to the U.S. over what he feels is an unfair playing field due to China’s non-market economy. He has also said the longtime One China policy isn’t necessarily written in stone.
In 2015, China was the world’s second-biggest importer of goods with shipments valued at $1.68 trillion compared to $2.3 trillion by the U.S., according to WTO data.
But the Chinese leader also indicated Beijing will look to bolster relations with the incoming administration.
“We will seek to build a new model of major country relations with the United States,” he said.