Former Chinese presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao sing the national anthem next to Xi Jinping during the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 18, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Jason Lee

China will further open up its economy to the world with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, said on Wednesday.

“An opening-up economy will improve while a closed one will lag behind,” Xi said in a speech in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing during the opening ceremony of the 19th Party Congress.

China will use the BRI as a core of its development, continue to attract foreign investment while also investing overseas, follow the principles of full consultation, joint development and mutual benefit, and increase its innovation ability, he said.

The country will launch high-level policies to provide more flexibility for the trade and investment sectors, fully implement the “negative list” system while significantly increasing market access, open up its service sectors, and protect the legal rights of foreign investors, he said.

It will grant more administrative power to its free-trade zones and explore opportunities for setting up free-trade ports, Xi said. China will encourage partnerships between local and foreign companies and gradually form an international network for the trade, investment and fundraising, production and service sectors.

“China will support industrial upgrades in traditional sectors and increase the pace of development in modern service industries to reach  international standards,” he said. “We will help our manufacturers enter the mid- and high-end segments of the global value chain and nurture a group of world-class product makers.”

In a three-hour speech, Xi also said China would continue to push forward state-owned-enterprise and financial reforms.

After his speech, he shook hands with former general secretary Jiang Zemin and had a chat with another former general secretary, Hu Jintao, who were both sitting next to him.