BEIJING, April 9 (UPI) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the Boao Forum for Asia, promised to oppose protectionism and protect the rights of foreign enterprises in China.
China will "expand, deepen and widen" its economy, firmly oppose protectionism in any form and solve economic and trade differences with other countries through consultation, Xi told representatives of 32 Chinese and overseas enterprises at the Boao Forum's round-table dialogue in south China's Hainan province.
"China promotes the establishment of a multilateral trade system featuring balance and development," he said, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xi, described as a reform-minded leader, took over as the top leader last month, succeeding outgoing President Hu Jintao. Xi is also the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and chairman of the party's powerful military commission.
Xi said China has kept its promises to the World Trade Organization over the past 10 years by making its business environment more open and standardized. He said the country's market environment is fair, adding, "We are protecting the legitimate rights of foreign enterprises according to law."
He said all companies, both foreign and domestic that are registered in China, are important components of China's economy, and promised the country's legal system and investment environment will be made such that all enterprises enjoy equal access to production, market competition and legal protection.
Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman of Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group, urged China to support the development of small businesses and encourage private capital in the agriculture and service sectors.
Pepsi President Zein Abdalla was quoted as saying he hoped the Chinese government can reform its administrative approval system and encourage foreign companies to invest in agricultural and eco-friendly industries.
Olof Persson, head of Sweden's Volvo Group, expressed confidence in China's market potential and said his company will participate in Chinese environmental protection programs, Xinhua reported.
Yuan Gangming, a research fellow at the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University, welcomed Xi's assurances, saying, "Making such a statement at the Boao Forum indicated a positive attitude regarding the trade and business conflicts China has been facing in recent years," Xinhua reported.