China opposes the many forms of trade protectionism and supports free trade, Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Sunday, amid rising anti-globalization sentiment around the world.
The country will also stick to its stance of economic opening-up and further improve the business environment for foreign investors, Zhang told the China Development Forum.
“China is willing to work with other countries to oppose various forms of trade and investment protectionism,” he said. “We should unwaveringly push forward economic globalization. We cannot halt our steps because of temporary difficulties.”
Zhang said world policymakers should make the globalization process more inclusive by putting more emphasis on equality. “The world economy is in a deep adjustment, growth is weak and trade protectionism is rising,” he said.
Government officials, scholars and entrepreneurs from around the world who are participating in the three-day forum in Beijing expressed their concerns about worsening trade protectionism dampening the prospects of the already weak global economic recovery. Many of them expressed concern about Donald Trump now being in a position to pursue his tough talk on trade as US president, and the United Kingdom starting its two-year process of leaving the European Union.
“My main concern is that the policies of both the US and the UK for 2017 will further push the world away from free trade, thereby reversing globalization’s momentum, which has been so good for the entire world,” Christopher Pissarides, a Nobel laureate and economist at the London School of Economics, said at the forum on Saturday.
China has called for cooperation among all countries to safeguard free trade. In January, President Xi Jinping defended globalization at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“China is, given its size of economy, the best hope for reversing the effect of the potential black swan by promoting globalization,” Pissarides said. A black swan is a metaphor for an unexpected event that has a major effect.
China will further open up its economy and provide a more favorable business environment for foreign investors, Zhang told the forum participants. “China will push for a higher-level economic opening-up,” he said.
Zhang urged the nation to continue to restructure its economy, shifting focus to innovation, strategically emerging industries, and advanced manufacturing. The country must safeguard financial security and “put prevention of financial risks higher on its agenda”.
He warned against the trend of funds flowing into the real estate sector and said if it is not well managed, there could be a problem with asset bubbles.
“China is undergoing a challenging transition to a slower-growing, consumption-driven economy,” said Charles-Edouard Bouee, global CEO of the Munich-based consulting firm Roland Berger. China now faces the challenges of a declining labor force and an aging population, so it needs to resort to innovation to achieve sustainable growth, he said.
“China will have to boost its innovation capacity that can improve productivity – by developing new products and services that address new, domestic consumer needs, and by fostering process innovation that makes manufacturing more efficient to compete on a global level.”
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