Billionaire Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma called fighting over trade senseless and decried once again a widening conflict between the USA and China.
The European Chamber of Commerce, which represents European Union firms doing business in China, expressed disappointment that Xi did not go further, arguing that little of what the Chinese president promised in his much ballyhooed speech to open the inaugural Import Expo in Shanghai on Monday was new.
The e-tail tycoon, who had previously announced his intention to retire in a year's time to focus attention on philanthropy, said China's plans to reinvent itself as an importing nation would trigger resistance from vested interests.
Emphasing on the significance of economic globalisation, he added, "Economic globalisation is an irreversible historical trend and provides strong momentum for the world economic development".
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde also said there remained "room for even greater reform" in China's market.
The shift will "fundamentally change ... the whole infrastructure of business and (the) ecosystem".
Based on past experiences, asking foreign businesses to operate in free-trade zones that are "ring-fenced" from the rest of the country, separating producers from their target consumer audience, is not a good example of China opening up its markets, its statement continued.
The Hangzhou-born entrepreneur has been an outspoken opponent of tariffs on US-China trade. All major countries in the world including the United States have massive trade deficits with China which is the leading exporter of the world.
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The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said in March that China would import $8 trillion of goods in the next five years.
But Ma told official news agency Xinhua in September that the trade war had "destroyed the premise the promise was made on".
"I never see young people worry about technology".
Ma argued on Monday that the goal of trade should be to promote peace and communication rather than conflict, and that the rise of protectionism is misguided. The trade, it is (...) to communicate.
"We will not have trade issues in the next 20 years, because no one can stop the development of technology", Ma said, before calling the ongoing dispute "senseless".
"They should not just point fingers at others to gloss over their own problems", Xi said, decrying "protectionism", "isolationism" and confrontation.
While Xi might have pledged to speed up reform of the world's second largest economy, his mindset is very different to that of Deng Xiaoping, the former Chinese leader who promoted major economic reforms, in particular allowing the formation of private businesses which now account for most economic growth and employment.
Xi has said the expo proves China is willing to reduce its huge trade surpluses with other countries.