President Xi Jinping has promised to open China's market wider as he opened a trade fair meant to promote the country's image as an importer, but he offered no response to USA and European complaints about technology policy and curbs on foreign business.
In his remarks, Mr Xi said he would stimulate imports, lower tariffs, ease customs clearance procedures and implement harsh punishments for intellectual property infringements - a key complaint of the US.
Xi said the expo showed China's desire to support global free trade, adding - without mentioning the United States - that countries must oppose protectionism.
As we leave the European Union, we have a once in a generation opportunity to put the United Kingdom at the centre of the world's fastest growing market - and increasing trade with China is at the heart of this vision.
Instead, people involved in planning meetings have said they were anticipating an event long on symbolism and short on substance meant to signal China's willingness to narrow trade deficits and openness.
Twelve countries were named "guests of honour" at the trade fair, including the UK, Russia, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Vietnam.
"The goal of importing $40 trillion of goods and services in the next 15 years is not ambitious", Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at research firm Oxford Economics, told Caixin.
The CIIE was not originally conceived of as a response to the trade war between the United States and China.
Officials of the Guangdong Silk-Tex Group led by their Chairman Ke Huiqi met Uhuru in Shanghai, China on Sunday, November 4, 2018, and revealed the company would not only set up a silk processing factory at the Export Processing Zone in Athi River but also establish a mega silk farm.
But none addresses US complaints that prompted Mr. Trump to impose penalty tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports. Government ministers from several other countries were also coming.
Mr Trump has repeatedly criticised China's trade surplus with the U.S. which he wants to narrow through the imposition of tariffs.
The event, which has a United Kingdom delegation led by the trade secretary Liam Fox, is aimed at bolstering access to China for foreign firms but has been overshadowed by the trade spat with Donald Trump.
Xi acknowledged some Chinese industries face "growing risks" but said efforts to shore up growth are already paying off.
"A storm can overturn a small pond, but not a sea", he said.
Greeted by a number of foreign leaders, President Xi welcomed the world to the expo. "Facing the future, China will always be here".
Trump has railed against China over intellectual property theft, entry barriers to USA business and a gaping trade deficit, which US data showed reached a record $40.2 billion in September.
Last week, the French and German ambassadors to Beijing appealed for changes including an end to requirements that foreign companies operate in joint ventures with state-owned partners. Kenya and other nations have run into trouble repaying Chinese loans.