SINGAPORE: China on Friday vowed to vigorously boost domestic demands and voiced its strong opposition to protectionism, saying both are key to bolstering the fledging global recovery.
"The world economy has shown positive signs of stabilization and recovery," President Hu Jintao told the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit.
But he cautioned that the economic upturn is not firmly established, with unsustainable patterns of global growth and major deficiencies in the international financial system.
"Our focus in countering the crisis is to expand domestic demand, especially consumer demand," Hu said.
In the face of the crisis, China has adjusted its macroeconomic policies. It has introduced a proactive fiscal policy and a moderately easy monetary policy, and implemented a stimulus package.
"We have been working hard to improve the consumption environment, adjust distribution relations, increase people's ability to spend and foster new areas of high consumer demand," he said.
The country has implemented measures to foster a new pattern of economic growth driven by consumption, investment and export, he said.
The measures are conducive to the steady and relatively fast growth of the Chinese economy and has also helped "the international effort to cushion the impact of the financial crisis and restore world economic growth", the president said.
"China will further boost domestic demand, vigorously expand the domestic market, and promote balanced growth of domestic and external demand," he said.
A priority is to improve the people's well-being by addressing issues such as medical care, housing, and old-age support, which have in the past constrained domestic consumption.
The president voiced China's strong opposition to the persisting protectionism, which he claimed is detrimental to global economic revival.
"Protectionism will not help any country move out of the crisis. It can only pose a threat to the fragile momentum of economic recovery," he said.
The president stressed that only with trade and investment liberalization and facilitation can the world achieve economic recovery and growth.
The international financial crisis has fueled trade and investment protectionism in several areas, and developing countries, in particular, have been victimized by an increasing number of unreasonable trade and investment restrictions, the president said. China has become one of the biggest victims of protectionist measures Minister of Commerce Chen Deming confirmed Friday night.
"When a country employs protectionist measures, it hurts trade with its partners, and ultimately it will hurt itself, like lifting the stone only to drop on its own feet," Minister Chen told China Daily Friday night.
In the first nine months of this year, 19 economies launched 88 probes into Chinese products, involving $10.2 billion of exported goods. During the period, the United States alone carried out 14 probes, according to Ministry of Commerce sources.
"We must continue to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and oppose protectionism in all its manifestations," President Hu said.
The president said the international economic situation is now improving but the world should not slow down reform of the international financial system.
"We should continue to increase the representation and voice of developing countries in international financial institutions, speedily implement the quantitative reform targets set at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, and improve decision-making processes and mechanisms in the institutions, " he said.
Regional economic integration will bring about more dynamic intra-regional trade and investment, and it is an important way to drive regional and world economies, Hu said.
"We should further improve the business environment and facilitate cross-border business operations," he said.
After delivering the speech, President Hu held one-on-one talks with Indonesian President Susilo, Peruvian President Alan Garcia, and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet Jeria about further developing relations between China and the countries.
Jack Ma, a delegate to the CEO summit and also chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, told China Daily that protectionism had created a vicious environment for enterprises to do business.
"So I think President Hu has spoken out the words that we in business circle have wanted to say," he said on Friday.
Raymond Chien, the chairman of Hong Kong subway operator MTR Corporation, told China Daily that President Hu had sent out all the right messages.
"The national policy commitment to develop the domestic market and to have the Chinese economy over the medium term to be more domestic-demand driven – that is highly encouraging," Chien said.
China, with its rising status, hopes for more international influence, said Gong Zhankui, a professor of the APEC Study Center at Tianjin-based Nankai University, commenting on Hu's speech.
The economic crisis means the current financial system needs be reformed, Gong said. "China and other developing nations want more say," he said.
APEC is promoting a true economic cooperation plan to make trade easier, he said.
"China is pushing forward the effort," Gong said, as "promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation" is a goal for both APEC and China.
"The west has realized through the financial crisis that a totally free market is problematic. They hope to increase their management of the market, according to the China model."
Cheng Guangjin and Alexis Hooi contributed to the story