NEW YORK, April 12 (Xinhua) -- China's commitment to openness and globalization is "critically important" at a time world economic stability and growth are threatened by rising protectionism, said a renowned U.S. scholar.
Sourabh Gupta, senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, D.C., made the remarks in a written interview with Xinhua on his take-aways from Chinese President Xi Jinping's keynote speech at the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference on Tuesday.
"It was a measured speech that struck the right balance between the broadly philosophical -- commitment to openness and globalization -- and the near-term specific in terms of liberalizations in the financial and auto sectors," Gupta said.
China will significantly broaden market access, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights, and take the initiative to expand imports, Xi announced in his speech at the BFA gathering in the southern island province of Hainan.
New initiatives include easing foreign equity restrictions in the automobile, shipping and aircraft industries.
China will also significantly lower import tariffs for vehicles this year, and seek faster progress toward joining the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement.
President Xi has spoken on numerous occasions along these lines, for instance, as chair at the Group of 20 Hangzhou summit in September 2016, in Davos and in Geneva in January 2017, and in the course of his 19th Party Congress address in October 2017, Gupta said.
"But this was the first speech since (U.S. President Donald) Trump initiated his trade war, hence it was reassuring to hear President Xi speak in a measured but firm tone that China will not be deflected from the path of openness and globalization," Gupta said.
"President Xi clearly expressed that China does not seek to run or target trade surpluses," the scholar said.
"Each of these points provides a basis for dialogue, dialogue and de-escalation -- so long as Washington is willing to make a good faith approach in this regard," Gupta said.
"I think this was the hidden gem within the speech. But it takes two hands to clap, and Washington must use this speech as a basis to change the path on which it is hurtling down currently," he said.
"More importantly, President Xi stretched out his hand to any and all takers who wish to reach out and pursue a win-win economic relationship with China."