BEIJING (Reuters) - Europe hopes China will deliver its pro-globalisation pledges by increasing foreign access to its own markets, the European Union’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 in Davos in January painted a picture of China as a wide 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 favour Chinese companies.
EU ambassador to China Hans Dietmar Schweisgut said Europe was impressed by Xi’s defence of globalisation 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” 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’s 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 (G7) industrialised nations, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, is set to join.
EU Commission vice president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness Jyrki Katainen 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.
Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Randy Fabi