No place for ‘unilateralism’ in trade disputes: Chinese Premier
Beijing, Sep 19 : Amid the escalating trade war with US, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday appealed for global support for free trade, saying “unilateralism” does not offer solutions to trade disputes which should be redressed through consultation.
Speaking at the summer session of the World Economic Forum in the eastern city of Tianjin, Li, the second ranking leader of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), also ruled out any attempts by Beijing to weaken the Chinese currency to boost its exports.
“It is essential that we uphold the basic principles of multilateralism and free trade,” Li said a day after China and the US swapped tit-for-tat tariffs.
While US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese products worth about USD 200 billion on Tuesday, on top of USD 50 billion already targeted, China said it would retaliate with tariff hike on USD 60 billion worth of US imports to be effective from next Monday.
After Beijing decided to retaliate Tuesday with duties on American products, Trump accused China of seeking to influence midterm congressional elections by taking aim at his political base.
Without directly referring to the ongoing tariff war, Li said solutions “need to be worked out through consultations.”
“No unilateralism will offer a viable solution,” he said.
He also said China has no intention of weakening its currency to help exporters and will not engage in any form of “competitive devaluation” of its exchange rate.
China will stick to market-oriented reform of the exchange rate formation mechanism and won’t pursue competitive devaluation of its currency, he said.
“China will create conditions for a stable exchange rate,” Li said, rebutting speculation that the Chinese government deliberately engineered the devolution of the currency in recent months.
The Yuan depreciated by about eight per cent against the US dollar since March which led to the speculation that it was aimed offsetting the effects of US tariffs on Chinese imports.
“Some people think China deliberately [devalued the yuan]; this is groundless,” Li said, in an indirect response to Trump’s allegations that Beijing is manipulating its currency, the Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post reported.
“A one-way depreciation will do more harm than good for China,” Li said.
“China will not choose the path of bolstering exports by devaluing the yuan … the yuan exchange rate will be kept basically stable,” he said.
Li also said China will adopt a stricter protection system on intellectual property rights (IPRs), a key demand by Trump to protect the rights of US technology investors in China.
Li said that protecting IPRs means protecting and stimulating innovation. China cannot achieve innovative development without an environment that respects knowledge and protects property rights, he said.
He also said China has become a new fertile land for global entrepreneurs and innovation, with new growth drivers breaking new ground for the country’s economic development.
Trump has been pressuring China to reduce the trade deficit with the US, totalling to USD 335.4 billion in 2017.
Earlier, both sides had resumed trade talks but at a lower level. Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen held talks in Washington but without much results.