Shanghai should lead China's plans to reform and advance innovation, the official Xinhua news agency has reported President Xi Jinping as saying at the annual meeting of parliament.
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Xinhua reported that Xi told the National People's Congress (NPC) on Sunday that Shanghai should try to ensure its free trade zone was a bastion of reform and financial innovation.
It should also assist China with its "One Belt, One Road" initiative that will provide services along Silk Road trade links, he told the NPC, China's largely rubber-stamp parliament.
Xi said the Shanghai free trade zone should be a channel for Chinese entities to "step outside" and an example for other regions, Xinhua reported.
The global environment was complex and volatile and downward pressure on the domestic economy was great, said Xi, while China insisted on steady progress.
China said last August it would set up seven new free trade zones in Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Chongqing.
(Reporting by Engen Tham; Editing by Paul Tait)