President Xi Jinping promised Tuesday to cut China’s auto tariffs and improve intellectual property protection in possible concessions aimed at defusing a worsening dispute with Washington over trade and technology that investors worry could set back the global economic recovery.
Speaking at a business conference, Xi made no direct mention of his American counterpart, Donald Trump, or the dispute. He promised progress on areas that are U.S. priorities including opening China’s banking industry and boosting imports but didn’t address key irritants for Washington such as a requirement for foreign companies to work through joint ventures that require them to give technology to potential local competitors.
Private sector analysts saw Xi’s speech as an overture to help end the biggest trade dispute since World War II. It has fueled fears of a global economic chill if other nations respond with their own import barriers.
Markets surged in response in Asia, Europe and also in the U.S., where the Dow jumped 300 points before the opening bell Tuesday.
Xi tried to position China as a defender of free trade and cooperation, despite its status as the most-closed major economy, in response to Trump’s “America first” calls for import restrictions and trade deals that are more favorable to the United States.
“China’s door of opening up will not be closed and will only open wider,” said Xi at the Boao Forum for Asia on the southern island of Hainan.