China's Premier Li touts free trade, says no hard landing for economy

Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:13am EDT
 
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By Kevin Yao and Ryan Woo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Premier Li Keqiang reassured investors on Wednesday that the world's second-largest economy is strong and not at risk of a hard landing, while stressing Beijing's support for globalization and free trade at a time of rising protectionism.

Li also reiterated that China does not want a trade war with the United States, and urged talks with Washington to find common ground.

"We do not want to see any trade war breaking out between the two countries. That would not make our trade fairer," Li said at his annual 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," he said.

U.S. President Donald 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, Trump had threatened to label China a currency manipulator and impose hefty tariffs on imports of Chinese goods.

But officials in China, the world's largest exporter and with a large trade surplus with the U.S., have generally struck a conciliatory tone, urging any disputes to be handled through discussions.

"I believe whatever differences we may have we can all sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions," Li said.   Continued...

 
China's Premier Li Keqiang waves as he arrives for a news conference after the closing ceremony of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter