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EU asks China to meet its globalization promises

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in January painted a picture of China as an open economy in contrast to a rising wave of global protectionism. (Reuters)
BEIJING: Europe hopes China will deliver its pro-globalization pledges by increasing foreign access to its own markets, the EU’s ambassador to China said on Tuesday ahead of a summit to discuss Beijing’s signature new Silk Road development plan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in January painted a picture of China as an open economy in contrast to a rising wave of global protectionism.
However, the Chinese government has faced increasingly fervent criticism from foreign business groups and governments alike, who say China has done little to remove discriminatory policies and market barriers that favor Chinese companies.
EU Ambassador to China Hans Dietmar Schweisgut said Europe was impressed by Xi’s defense of globalization and open markets in Davos, calling them important messages.
“They are important also because they have raised expectations,” Schweisgut told a press briefing. “We obviously also hope that China will implement domestically what it is preaching globally.”
Schweisgut’s comments come days before next week’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) forum, which will draw heads of state to Beijing to discuss Xi’s plan to expand trade links between Asia, Africa and Europe through billions of dollars in infrastructure investment.
China has repeatedly rebuffed concerns that the plan is part of a grand strategy to expand its economic interests and seek global dominance, saying that while it is a Chinese-led scheme anyone can join to boost common prosperity.
Representatives from more than 100 countries will attend the summit, China’s biggest diplomatic event of the year, though only one leader from the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized nations, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, is set to join.
Jyrki Katainen, EU Commission vice president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, will attend for the EU.
Schweisgut said Europe supported carefully vetted initiatives to upgrade infrastructure in Eurasia, which could unleash “growth potential for all.”
“It is in our view something that should also be based on open platforms with sustainability in terms of financing, market-based principles, like open and transparent tender procedures. All of these are very important principles to make it succeed,” Schweisgut said.

Financial stability
China will pay close attention to the impact of non-bank financial institutions on financial stability, which could have global repercussions, according to a central bank working paper published on Tuesday.
In recent years non-bank institutions such as trust and investment companies, or fund and asset management firms have expanded their activity — much of it a less regulated form of lending — even as policymakers have tried to rein in leverage in the Chinese economy.
“Though banks still dominate China’s financial system, non-bank financial institutions have considerable influence as well,” the paper published on the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) website said.
The paper analyzed the impact of changes in China’s stock market and financial sector on developed countries — the US, Britain, Germany and Japan.
“China’s financial sector exerts considerable influence on global financial markets, especially on the Japanese financial sector,” it said.
The central bank has gingerly raised short-term rates recently to contain financial risks and encourage companies to deleverage, though economists expect authorities will move cautiously to avoid hurting economic growth.

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