Premier warns US over starting a trade war

Deputies to the National People’s Congress walk out of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing after China’s top legislature concluded its annual session. — Xinhua

Deputies to the National People’s Congress walk out of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing after China’s top legislature concluded its annual session. — Xinhua

PREMIER Li Keqiang yesterday warned the United States against starting a trade war, while expressing optimism that the world’s two largest economies can keep relations moving “in a positive direction.”

He said China did not want to see a trade war between the world’s largest and second largest economies. “That would not make our trade fairer and it hurts us both,” he said.

He said China and the US are involved in discussions over a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US counterpart Donald Trump.

The China-US relationship is crucial not just to the countries themselves, but also to regional and global peace, security and stability, Li said. “Hence we must work together to continuously take it forward.”

Li said China-US ties had been advancing despite some twists and turns, but he felt optimistic about future relations because “after several decades of growth of bilateral relations, the two countries now share a wide range of common interests.”

Though there are still differences over issues such as jobs, exchange rates and security, he said “it is important for both countries to uphold strategic interests, sit down to talk to each other, so as to enhance mutual understanding and trust.”

Differences that can’t be resolved at present or anytime soon can be shelved and both countries can focus on expanding common interests, he said, with the percentage of differences in overall China-US relations continuing to fall.

“No matter what bumps the China-US relationship may run into, we hope this relationship will continue to move forward in a positive direction.”

China believes the people of both countries have the wisdom to properly manage their differences, Li said.

Both presidents had talked to each other by phone and had agreed to push forward China-US ties, Li said, and President Trump and senior US officials had stated explicitly that Washington will continue to follow the “One-China” policy.

“This policy constitutes the political foundation of China-US relations, which has remained unshaken in spite of changing circumstances, nor can this foundation be undermined,” Li said.

“With that foundation in place, we believe there are bright prospects for China-US cooperation.”

Li urged the European Union to ease its high-tech export restrictions on China, responding to concerns over the bloc’s trade deficit with the country. “I believe that will make a big difference in our trade imbalance,” Li said.

The EU is China’s largest trading partner, while China is the EU’s second largest after the US. “China has no intention of pursuing a trade surplus.” Li said. “In fact, China prefers trade balance, otherwise it won’t be sustainable.”

Li said European companies are situated at the higher end of industrial chain and already making a lot of money in the Chinese market.

China looks forward to a positive response from the EU on the ongoing Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations, Li said, while promising that China will further open up its market to European companies and treat them the same as domestic ones.

“The future of the EU and China-EU relations looks bright to me,” he said.

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