China is open for business, that's the message President Xi Jinping is trying to sell at a big trade expo this week. While his country fights an escalating trade war with the United States. President Xi on Monday kicked off the first ever China International Import Expo with a promise.
> China will lower tariffs, make customs clearance more convenient, reduce institutional cost in the import sector and speed up the development of new business models.>> Thousands of foreign companies have flocked to the expo in Shanghai. Hoping to find a foothold in the world's second largest economy, with products from coffee to cars to crude oil.
Big players like Google, Starbucks and Intel also making a showing. But as Reuters' Ben Blanchard reports, some may be here for other reasons.>> If you speak to some of the people involved in this import fair. They've been telling us that China has been making it very clear to a lot of companies, especially major Western companies, that they really don't have a choice about attending, and if they don't attend, then life will be made a little bit more difficult for them.
>> The expo comes as Beijing is under fire from countries like the United States. Which feel they're getting the short end of the trade relationship. President Xi seems to be trying to change the conversation, emphasizing free trade and vowing to open up sectors from education to telecoms. Although critics say the event is long on symbolism, and short on substance.
Xi's speech, we didn't really see any particularly new policies that he rolled out. He really made the same old promises that they always make about, we'll continue to open the market more. We'll continue to provide better access and more protection for foreign companies in China, but without many specifics.
>> Meanwhile, the world is watching the expo for any hints of what may come next in the Beijing-Washington trade dispute. US President Donald Trump is expected to meet President Xi this month. He's threatened to slap tariffs on another $267 billion worth of Chinese imports, if the two countries fail to reach a deal.