(Bloomberg) -- Premier Li Qiang vowed that China will open wider to the outside world and establish a “broad space” for foreign companies to develop in the Asian nation.
“China’s economy has deeply integrated into the global system,” Li told foreign attendees of the China Development Forum on Monday, according to state broadcaster China Central Television. “China will unswervingly stick to opening up, regardless of changes to the global environment.”
The country’s growth will provide new momentum for the world economy, he added.
The comments underscore Beijing’s push to assure investors of its economic recovery and commitment to international businesses at the three-day forum. Overseas executives made their first trip to the world’s No. 2 economy since it reopened its borders after three years of stringent pandemic restrictions.
Li thanked the foreign representatives in the audience for the support they’d offered over the years and urged them to “take a long-term view” amid economic challenges.
“It is like pressing on the journey during a rainy day,” Li said. “If one keeps their head down, they’d only see a muddy road. But if one looks ahead, they’d see the rainbow after the rain.”
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About 70 foreign executives — including Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, Bridgewater Associates’ Ray Dalio and Deloitte’s Sharon Thorne — were shown on CCTV attending the forum. The event was Li’s first with foreign businesses since becoming China’s No. 2 official earlier this month.
Li struck an enthusiastic, upbeat tone about China’s contribution to global growth and its ability to overcome future challenges, Andrew Forrest, founder and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., told Bloomberg in an interview following the meeting with the premier.
A key message from the China Development Forum this year is that “China is open for business again” said Scott Kennedy, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic & International Studies who attended the event.
At the same time, China is seeking to become more self-reliant in key technologies amid US efforts to curb its advances in chip technology, and companies continue to complain that market access is still restricted.
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The economic recovery also remains uncertain. Profits at industrial firms in China plunged in the first two months, unemployment has increased and the housing market is still weak. The global economy is also weakening, curbing demand for Chinese exports.
Beijing is counting on a rebound in domestic investment and consumer demand to meet its economic growth target of about 5% this year. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the economy to grow 5.3% this year.
--With assistance from Philip Glamann.
(Updates with comments from Scott Kennedy.)
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