Chinese Official To U.S.: ‘Act Rationally’ On Trade Of Steel, Technology

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addresses a press conference with the Hungarian Prime Minister in the Hungarian parliament building in Budapest on November 28, 2017 after their official talks. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ... Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addresses a press conference with the Hungarian Prime Minister in the Hungarian parliament building in Budapest on November 28, 2017 after their official talks. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived on November 26 for the China-CEEC (16 Central and Eastern European Countries) summit and for his two-day official visit starting today. / AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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BEIJING (AP) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang appealed to Washington on Tuesday to “act rationally” and avoid disrupting trade over steel, technology and other disputes, promising that Beijing will “open even wider” to imports and investment.

“No one will emerge a winner from a trade war,” said Li, the No. 2 Chinese leader, at a news conference held during the meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature.

Li made no mention of a possible Chinese response in the event U.S. President Donald Trump raises import barriers over trade complaints against Beijing, but other officials say President Xi Jinping’s government is ready to act.

Trump’s government has raised import duties on Chinese-made washing machines and other goods and is investigating whether Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology, which might lead to trade penalties. That could invite Chinese retaliation.

“What we hope is for us to act rationally rather than being led by emotions,” the premier said. “We don’t want to see a trade war.”

Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said March 11 that China will “resolutely defend” its interests but gave no details. Business groups have suggested Beijing might target U.S. exports of jetliners, soybeans and other goods for which China is a major market.

Asked whether Beijing might use its large holdings of U.S. government debt as leverage, the premier said its investments are based on market principles and “China will remain a responsible long-term investor.”

Li promised more market-opening and other reforms as Xi’s government tries to make its cooling, state-dominated economy more productive. He said Beijing will make it easier to start a business and will open more industries to foreign and private competition.

The ruling Communist Party promised in 2013 to give a bigger role to market forces and entrepreneurs who generate most of China’s new jobs and wealth. Reform advocates complain they are moving too slowly.

Private sector analysts say Xi, who took power in 2012, might accelerate reform after focusing for his first five-year term as party leader on cementing his status as China’s most dominant figure since at least the 1980s.

“If there is one thing that will be different from the past, that will be that China will open even wider,” said Li.

Beijing plans to “further bring down overall tariffs,” with “zero tariffs for drugs, especially much-needed anti-cancer drugs,” the premier said.

Li repeated a promise he made at the March 5 opening of the legislature to “fully open the manufacturing sector” to foreign competitors.

“There will be no mandatory requirement for technology transfers and intellectual property rights will be better protected,” he said.

The government has yet to say how that might change conditions for automakers and other manufacturers that are required to work through Chinese partners, which requires them to share technology with potential competitors.

In a sign of Li’s reduced status as President Xi Jinping amasses power, the premier was flanked by eight newly promoted economic officials, in contrast to previous years when he appeared alone at the annual news conference.

They included Liu He, a Harvard-trained Xi adviser who was named a vice premier Monday and has told foreign businesspeople he will oversee economic reform. Neither Liu nor any of the other officials spoke at the event.

The premier traditionally is China’s top economic official but Xi has stripped Li of his most prominent duties by appointing himself to lead ruling party bodies that oversee economic reform and finance policy.

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Notable Replies

  1. I don’t know how I feel about Trump’s tariffs on China. I realize we are all hurt in a trade war and that free trade is generally the best policy, but the Chinese have taken unfair advantage of decades of American politicians being asleep at the switch. Over all I think Trump has identified the right problem, but is employing the wrong solution.

  2. I think it is hilarious that this guy is asking BoneSpurs to “act rationally” — name me one single incident where he has ever acted rationally.

  3. If the article in “The New York Post”,two days ago,is correct we will be hearing from McConnell.
    He will keep his mouth shut on Trump and Russia but not Trump and China tariffs.

  4. Yeah…that’s asking a lot

  5. You know, after all those years when they called our leaders as mad dogs, rabid, bloody-fanged wolves tearing apart the carcasses of the workers and so forth, this brings you up short a bit because it’s a calm, dry statement of fact.

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