Xi Jinping: 'China will protect foreign companies'

Xi Xi Jinping Xi Jinping says economic growth will weaken, but it will nevertheless stay strong

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China's President, Xi Jinping, has promised to protect the rights of foreign companies.

His promise came as many global firms worry about Chinese policies that hurt their business in the country.

Mr Xi also said the days of double-digit economic growth in China are likely to be over.

"China will sustain relatively high economic growth, but not super-high economic growth," he said at a business conference in Southern China.

Mr Xi, who became president last month, said China would "protect the lawful rights and interests of foreign-invested companies" and "ensure their rights to equal participation in government procurement and independent innovation".

"China will never close its door to the outside world," he said. "Now that we have opened this door we will not close it, not for now and not in the future."

The comments came after senior executives from companies including PepsiCo, Volvo and Samsung met Mr Xi to express their concerns including about restriction on types of investments they can make.

Consumption-led growth

China, which is the world's second-largest economy, is seen as a driver of global growth, much of it thanks to double-digit growth in its own economy.

The country had maintained an annual average growth level of almost 10% for many years.

Mr Xi said a slowing of the pace of growth would help China rebalance its economy towards a domestic consumption-led model rather than an export-driven model, something it has been trying to achieve for years.

"It does not mean we can not maintain economic growth at a very fast pace, but because we don't want it any more," he said.

In 2012, China grew at its slowest pace in 13 years, with gross domestic product expanding by 7.8%.

Mr Xi was speaking to representatives from Chinese and foreign companies at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan.

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