SYDNEY, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Amid recent concerns over the escalating trade tensions and protectionism, Chinese President Xi Jinping's latest pledge to globalization and opening-up has been hailed by Australian academic and business communities.
"Australia is a small, open economy, and we rely on a rules-based trading system to protect our national interests. So it's a big positive for Australia if China supports that rules-based system," Professor James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, told Xinhua.
China will "stay as determined as ever to build world peace, contribute to global prosperity and uphold the world order," Xi said Tuesday when addressing the opening ceremony of the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia in China's southern island province of Hainan.
Australian investors were highly motivated by the speech, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index reaching a two-and-a-half week high to close up 48.3 points or 0.83 percent higher at 5,857 on Tuesday. Strong moves in markets were also expected with the future index up by at least 1 percent.
Westpac analysts Imre Speizer and Sean Callow highlighted in a research note that investors were looking to President Xi's assurance that the U.S. protectionism would not be played out in the world's second largest economy.
To that effect, the president's pledge to further open the Chinese economy and lower barriers on products, such as vehicle import tariffs, also buoyed the U.S. markets and helped propel the greenback and Asian shares higher.
"Built on the highly successful economic reforms over the past 40 years, China's door will open wider through a range of strong measures to further grow market access, open financial markets and liberalize foreign investment," said Elizabeth Gaines, chief executive officer of Australian iron ore group Fortescue Metals.
Signs were clear that Australian businesses understood the threats posed by the rising rhetoric about trade protectionism and market barriers.
"When the United States undermines the rules-based order by putting in place tariffs outside the World Trade Organization, it's very important that Australia stands up and makes it clear that we don't consider that in our interests," said Laurenceson.
China's latest commitment to further open its markets and import more goods means that Australia would be "very lucky to play a role," Professor Hans Hendrischke from The University of Sydney Business School told Xinhua.
"Australia will essentially be able to follow, and to reap the benefits that will be created for the bigger economic players, for the United States and for the European Union," he said.