Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gave a rallying call for free trade on Tuesday, after a roundtable event in Beijing for heads of international economic organizations including the World Bank, IMF and WTO.
He urged the world to embrace free trade because "it is the solution to hardships and problems", enables companies to transform themselves and gives consumers more choices.
Chinese leaders have lately come out as champions of free trade in the face of contrary developments like Brexit and the US taking a protectionist track under Donald Trump. President Xi Jinping used addresses at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January and the Belt and Road Forum in China in May to promote China's idea of a cooperative, win-win world economic order.
Speaking at a joint press conference on Tuesday with other big-hitting delegates at the second "1+6" Round Table Dialogue, Premier Li said the international economy needed structural reform as the world faces a new industrial revolution 10 years after the global financial crisis.
China is keen to connect with global markets, uphold multilateralism and consider different points of view from other countries and organizations, he added.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said at the press conference that "China's role in promoting free trade is becoming critical" and that trade and investment are engines for global economic growth.
Turning to China, Li said the world's second-largest economy will maintain steady momentum. Although economic growth is slowing, it is still reasonable, according to the premier.
"There will be no big changes in China's economic trend," he said. "At the same time, our economic quality and efficiency have been improving. Profits of China's enterprises and employment have seen significant growth."
Li pointed to the growth of consumption and the service industry in China as evidence of a successful shift from the country's former reliance on industry. Consumption represented 63.4 percent of the Chinese economy in the first six months of 2017, compared to 44.7 in 2016, and services have become the country's largest industry.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde noted that her organization has upgraded its forecast for Chinese economic growth this year from 6.6 percent to 6.7 percent. She said the upgrade was due to strong global momentum and China's own commitment to achieving growth targets.
The "1+6" Round Table Dialogue was also attended by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo; Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organization; Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and Mark Carney, chairman of the Financial Stability Board.