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Xi vows to further open China economy amid US trade spat

[BEIJING] President Xi Jinping vowed on Tuesday to take new steps to open China's economy "wider and wider" amid a broiling trade confrontation with the United States.

He said China will take measures to liberalise automobile investment, reduce tariffs on cars this year and protect intellectual property - all areas that have been high on the list of demands by Washington.

Pledging a "new phase of opening up", Mr Xi told an economic forum on the southern island of Hainan that Beijing "does not seek a trade surplus" and hopes to increase imports.

"Economic globalisation is an irreversible trend of the time," Mr Xi told the Boao Forum for Asia.

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"The door of China's opening up will not close, it will only open wider and wider." Mr Xi's speech came two days after US President Donald Trump suggested that he saw an end to the trade dispute, which has included tit-for-tat tariffs and threats for more punishing duties by both nations.

"President Xi and I will always be friends," Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday.

"China will take down its trade barriers because it is the right thing to do." Mr Xi did not directly address the trade dispute in his speech.

But Mr Trump on Monday railed against Chinese tariffs on car imports and the Chinese foreign ministry warned that trade talks with the United States were "impossible" under current conditions.

"When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a Tariff to be paid of 2 1/2%. When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a Tariff to be paid of 25%," Mr Trump tweeted.

"Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE - going on for years!"

AFP