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Saturday 24 March 2018

China does not want trade war with Washington, premier says

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives for a press conference in Beijing (Ng Han Guan/AP)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives for a press conference in Beijing (Ng Han Guan/AP)

China does not want a trade war with the US, and will open its economy to more foreign investment and trade, Premier Li Keqiang has said.

He revealed that Beijing and Washington are discussing a face-to-face meeting between China's President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump.

Mr Li, China's second most senior leader, is in charge of economic issues and was speaking at a news conference following the close of the annual legislative meeting.

He said the two giant economies should "uphold strategic interests".

Mr Trump has promised to raise import taxes on Chinese goods to counter what he says are unfair practices by Beijing.

That has prompted warnings China might retaliate, disrupting one of the world's biggest trading relationships.

"We don't wish to see a trade war breaking out between the two countries. That wouldn't make our trade fairer," said Mr Li.

"China hopes that, no matter what bumps this relationship may run into, it will continue to forge in the right direction."

The premier affirmed Beijing's commitment to free trade, on which Chinese leaders have emerged as global advocates in response to Mr Trump's calls for controls on imports, despite complaints China is the most-closed major economy.

China will open its markets wider despite "frictions in trade and investment," Mr Li said.

"China will continue to open to the outside world," the premier said. "We welcome other partners to share with us in the development opportunities of China."

The premier said China will help promote Asian regional trade but wants to work with its neighbours - an apparent attempt to ease concern about Beijing's increasing economic dominance.

"We have an open mind and we are ready to work together with others," he said.

"China has no intention to overreach itself."

Mr Li also said that Beijing has no plans to devalue its yuan to boost exports and will keep its exchange rate "generally stable".

His comments follow heavy spending by the central bank in currency markets to shore up the yuan's exchange rate against the dollar.


Press Association

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