He warns against trade war, calls for steady ties, stable region
China expects that cooperation with the United States in the Asia-Pacific region will bring opportunities to ASEAN countries instead of trouble, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday.
Beijing does not want to see any party in the region feel compelled to choose sides under the influence of a Cold War mentality, he said at a news conference at the end of the annual plenary session of the National People’s Congress.
He said China and the US have been cooperating for a long time in the region and noted that many US multinational companies have chosen China for their Asia-Pacific headquarters.
“China believes regional affairs should be decided and handled on the merits of each case,” Li said.
The premier also said China hopes that the Asia-Pacific region will enjoy order and stability, be able to work out issues through consensus-building consultation, properly manage differences through dialogue and have the wisdom to resolve differences.
Li made the remarks in response to a question by a reporter from Thailand who said Southeast Asian countries are watching the administration of US President Donald Trump make its Asia policies and do not want to see conflicts between China and the US in the region.
When asked about Beijing’s relations with Washington, Li warned the US about starting a trade war while expressing optimism that the world’s two largest economies could keep relations steady.
“We do not want to see any trade war breaking out between the two countries. That wouldn’t make our trade more fair,” Li said.
During his election campaign, Trump had threatened to label China a currency manipulator and impose hefty tariffs on imports from China.
Li cited a report that he said indicated that if a trade war occurred, “foreign-invested companies, in particular US firms, would bear the brunt of it”.
He said statistics show that bilateral investment and trade created nearly 1 million jobs for the US in the past year.
The premier stressed that the one-China policy constitutes the political foundation of the relations.
“With that foundation in place, we believe that there are broad prospects for China-US cooperation.”
China and the US are currently working to arrange a meeting between the top leaders of the two countries, the premier said.
Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the premier’s remarks on China-US ties sent a signal of confidence.
Ruan said that, based on Li’s tone when answering questions about diplomacy, it seems China will “seek advancement while maintaining stability” in its diplomatic efforts this year.
Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said the question from the Thai reporter reflected widespread concerns of countries in the Asia-Pacific region about interaction between China and the US in the region.
The professor said the concerns are due to a Cold War mentality of some countries that is disturbing the region. “China does not welcome such a mentality. The premier stressed today that our security view highlights inclusiveness and stability.”
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