World

We do not want trade war with US, says Premier Li

China hopes relationship with US moves in positive direction

BEIJING: China's Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday that Beijing does not want to see a trade war with the United States and urged talks between both sides to achieve common ground.

"We do not want to see any trade war breaking out between the two countries. That would not make our trade fairer," Mr Li said at his news conference at the end of the annual meeting of China's parliament.

"Our hope on the Chinese side is that no matter what bumps this relationship hits, we hope it will continue to move forward in a positive direction.

"We may have different statistical methods, but I believe whatever differences we may have, we can all sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions."

Issues that cannot immediately be solved should be "shelved" for the time being, he added.

Media in the US have reported that US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet in Florida next month.

Mr Trump has attacked China on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and what he perceives as China's lack of interest in reining in nuclear-armed North Korea.

During the election campaign, he had threatened to label China a currency manipulator and impose huge tariffs on imports of Chinese goods.

Mr Trump has not followed through on either move yet, but the US Treasury will issue its semi-annual currency report next month.

China's trade surplus against the US was US$366 billion (S$ 517.8b) in 2015.

Mr Li also said China hopes to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea by pushing forward with negotiations for a code of conduct for rival claimants in the disputed waters.

Negotiations began in 2010 for an agreed upon set of rules between China and the 10 members of Asean aimed at avoiding conflict in the South China Sea.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said last week that a first draft of the code was ready and that tension in the waterway had eased noticeably.

China lays claim to almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which about US$5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the waters. - REUTERS

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