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US-China trade war will hurt American firms the most: Li Keqiang

According to Prime Minister Li Keqiang, China will remain an “important engine” for world growth amid sluggish global economic recovery.

world Updated: Mar 15, 2017 20:46 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Li Keqiang,China,US
LI said China-US trade and investment created more than one million jobs in the United States.(AFP)

China on Wednesday said it does not want a trade war with the US and that differences should be “shelved” till bilateral talks could forge a consensus.

A trade war with the US “would not make our trade fairer”, Premier Li Keqiang told a news conference to mark the end of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s national parliament.

Quoting a think-tank report, Li was quick to point out that “If there were a trade war, it would be foreign-funded companies, particularly US firms, that would first bear the brunt”.

“We may have different statistical methodologies, but we can continue talking to reach a consensus. Even if we cannot reach a consensus at once, we can temporarily shelve our differences,” Li said.

“In terms of trade issues, although China currently has a surplus, more than 90% of Chinese companies’ profits were taken by the US. We have statistics showing that last year, China-US trade and investment created more than one million jobs in the United States.”

Li’s statements came against the backdrop of a possible meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump being set up in the US in April.

Referring to the state of China’s economy, Li ruled out the possibility of systemic risks as “the country has plenty of policy options at its disposal”.

“China’s financial system is generally safe,” he said.

Li acknowledged potential risks in the financial sector and said the government will take them seriously and adopt prompt and targeted measures to prevent them from spreading.

China will “fasten the seat belt” and prevent any “acute outburst” of financial risks in order to maintain medium-high growth speed, Li said.

China, he said, will remain an important engine for world growth amid sluggish global economic recovery.

“Given China’s GDP has exceeded 74 trillion Yuan (about $11 trillion), the 6.5% growth this year does not mean the country’s contribution will be coming down,” Li said.

“If we meet the growth target this year, the size of expansion will be bigger than the growth last year,” Li said.

On the increasingly tense situation in the Korean Peninsula, Li said: “To achieve denuclearisation of the peninsula and maintain peace and stability there, we need to sit down and talk. China supports all resolutions of the UN and firmly upholds the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“Tensions may lead to conflicts and will harm all sides. We hope that through the efforts of all the parties concerned, the tensions can be eased, and negotiations can resume. Anyway, no one wants to see chaos on his doorstep.”

Li also answered questions on the South China Sea and said China hopes to maintain peace and stability in the region by pushing forward negotiations for a code of conduct for rival claimants in the disputed waters. He reiterated only parties involved in disputes over islands and reefs in the maritime region should be part of such talks.

First Published: Mar 15, 2017 16:07 IST