Leaders from 18 counties will attend the up coming import expo in China’s business hub, Shanghai, next week. The Chinese government said leaders from Russia, Pakistan, Czech Republic, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Lithuania, Panama, El Salvador, Switzerland, the Cook Islands, Croatia, Egypt, Hungary, Georgia, Laos, Malta, and Vietnam will be attending the confrence. However, no major western country will be in attendance.

Set to run from Nov. 5 to Nov. 10, the conference will bring together thousands of foreign and Chinese companies, aiming to boost imports, address foreign concerns about China’s trade practices and show readiness to narrow trade gaps.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has been invited as the chief guest to this international event.

The United States, however, decided not to send any official to the fair. Chinese authorities say the decision was “hard to understand”. Experts say USA’s refusal to participate is probably a result of the US-China trade war.

In an important shift, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic both switched recognition from Taiwan to China this year.

Some are sending presidents, including the Czech Republic and Kenya, while others, such as Russia and Pakistan, are sending their prime ministers.

When asked why certain countries’ leaders had been invited specifically, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said everyone was very enthusiastic about attending the trade fair, but as to who represents which country was up to the countries to decide after “friendly consultations” with China.

“Certainly, it has received broad attention and has been broadly welcomed by the international community,” he said.

China holding an import fair shows the Chinese government’s determination to further open up the country and to share the benefits of China’s development, Lu added. China says more 130 countries and 2,800 companies have decided to take part, including 180 U.S. companies such as Microsoft Corp, Disney and Intel Corp.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been working to expand Chinese influence using trade and investment

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the import expo in early 2017 and will speak at its opening. However, some critics have dismissed the event, which China plans to hold every year, as largely a propaganda effort.


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