A view of a session of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2018 in Boao, south China's Hainan province on April 10, 2018. The BFA annual conference 2018 takes place between April 8-11. / AFP / -
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President Xi Jinping set the stage Tuesday for a possible effort to resolve a worsening clash with Washington over technology and trade by promising to cut auto import taxes, improve intellectual property protection and boost imports.Xi's pledges at a business conference came as China filed a World Trade Organization challenge over one aspect of its sprawling conflict with President Donald Trump -- last month's U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum.Speaking to Chinese and foreign businesspeople, Xi didn't mention Trump or their dispute.Beijing fired back with its own $50 billion list of U.S. goods for possible retaliation.In his speech, Xi tried to position China as a defender of free trade, despite its status as the most-closed major economy, in response to Trump's "America first" calls for import restrictions and trade deals that are more favorable to the United States. Xi gave no details on how those conditions might change, leaving it unclear whether that might mollify Washington.Xi repeated earlier official pledges to open China's finance industries to foreign investors but gave no additional details.More broadly, Xi repeated official promises to expand imports and to narrow China's trade surplus, which reached $423 billion last year -- about two-thirds of that with the United States.
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