Wires

China says no promise 'fatigue' on opening its economy

BEIJING, Nov 4 (Reuters) - There is no promise "fatigue" about China's efforts to open its economy to foreign businesses, the government said on Monday on the eve of week-long import fair, after the European Union said China needed to make rapid and substantial improvements.

The EU, China's largest trading partner, said last week ahead of the Shanghai fair that there was a risk of "promise fatigue", urging China to show "more ambition and genuine effort towards rebalancing and a level playing field".

China has long been dogged by allegations of unfair trade practices, from forced tech transfers to protectionist market entry policies. The country has been criticised for making promises to open its market and not delivering on them.

Speaking at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said China was pleased to note the EU's statement mentioned how European companies' sales had benefited from the fair last year, the first of its kind in the country.

European firms will be well-represented this year, too, and are sure to come away well satisfied, Geng said.

When it comes to China's commitment to reform and opening up, China has always stuck to its word, he said.

"So the European side can rest easy. China will spare no effort in fulfilling its promises and commitments. There is no so-called 'fatigue' issue."

The fair begins on Tuesday with a speech by President Xi Jinping. French President Emmanuel Macron and the EU's incoming trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, are both attending.

While Brussels and Washington have common complaints about problems their companies face in China, the EU has not resorted punitive tariff measures as the United States has done.

Concerned by potential Chinese dominance of strategic European industries, the EU is trying to coax Beijing to open up its markets and has tried to get it to commit to removing what Brussels sees as unfair barriers to trade. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Tom Hogue)