Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, Nov. 10, 2017. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
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President Xi Jinping sent a strong message of pursuing open global economies, supporting free trade and building a multilateral trade system in a highly anticipated speech delivered at the APEC CEO Summit in Vietnam on Friday. [Special coverage]
He called economic globalization an irreversible historical trend, telling the business leaders from the Asia-Pacific region who had gathered in coastal Da Nang, "In pursuing economic globalization, we should make it more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all."
Xi made the speech immediately after arriving in Da Nang from Beijing on Friday afternoon. The Chinese president won long applause and cheers at the start and finish of his speech.
Noting that economic globalization has contributed significantly to global growth, Xi said he is looking forward to advancement of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, an agreement among the 21 APEC economies.
He said the answer is clear to the question of whether to work together for regional cooperation or to be self-isolated, and he called for joint efforts to make a bright future for the Asia-Pacific economy.
"We should continue to foster an open economy that benefits all. Openness brings progress, while self-seclusion leaves one behind," he said.
In his speech, Xi highlighted the importance of improving a multilateral trade system and pursuing shared growth through win-win cooperation.
Mentioning that China will commemorate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up next year, Xi pledged to make continuous efforts to boost both.
"China will not slow its steps in opening itself up. 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.
The initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, aims to boost interconnectivity and free trade between China and the rest of the world, with a focus on building a vast logistics and transportation network.
"This initiative is from China, but it belongs to the world. It is rooted in history, but it is oriented toward the future," Xi said, adding that the initiative will create a broader and more dynamic platform for Asia-Pacific cooperation.
China is now a main driver of global growth, Xi said, noting that over the past four years, China's economy has grown by 7.2 percent on average annually, contributing more than 30 percent of global growth.
The president's speech came after China's announcement on Friday that it will ease market access in finance sectors including banks, security funds and insurance, and gradually reduce tariffs on imported automobiles.
Xi told the business leaders that in the next 15 years, it is estimated China will import $24 trillion worth of goods, attract $2 trillion of inbound direct investment and make outbound investment worth $2 trillion.
In his speech, Xi also expressed his confidence and determination to achieve the goal of lifting all of the country's poor people out of poverty by 2020.
It was the most important speech Xi has delivered at an international event since the conclusion of the Communist Party of China's 19th National Congress, held last month, during which the CPC elected its new Central Committee.
The congress formulated a guide to action and a development blueprint for China in the new era, Xi said, adding that under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people will embark on a new journey.
Michael W. Michalak, senior vice-president of the US-ASEAN Business Council, said China is trying to make the country's economic growth more equal, inclusive and development-oriented for the whole world.
"China has talked about reform and opening-up ever since I first started going there in the early 1990s, and they have done a very good job, so now let's keep it up," he said.
China's efforts to rapidly reduce poverty in recent years is "very respectable", he said, adding that there is a lot of work for China to do, because there are still many poverty-stricken people who must be lifted out of poverty by 2020 under the Chinese government's plan.
Michalak said that what impressed him most about Xi's speech was "when he said that 'if we make a commitment, we have to live up to it'".