HONG KONG — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday he did not want to see a trade war with the U.S. and believed there were “bright prospects” between the two world powers.
The top official was speaking at the close of the fifth session of the National People’s Congress during which he addressed a number of hot button topics, including national GDP growth and free trade policy.
“President Trump and senior officials from the new administration have explicitly stated that the U.S. will continue to follow the One China policy,” Li said. “This policy constitutes the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, which has remained unshaken in spite of changing circumstances, nor can this foundation be undermined. With that foundation in place, we believe there are bright prospects for China-U.S. cooperation.”
Before becoming president, Trump shocked the diplomatic world by taking a phone call with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen and suggested that he may not honor the One China policy. He has since backed away from that position.
Trump is planning to host Xi Jinping for a summit next month at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The trip is expected to be finalized this week when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Beijing.
Li said that after several decades of growth, the two nations “share extensive common interests,” despite their differences, and added that trade between the two had created up to one million jobs in the U.S.
“Whatever differences we have, I believe we can sit down and work together to find solutions,” Li said. “For those differences that cannot be resolved for the time being, or anytime soon, they can be shelved and we can focus on expanding our common interest which is the right choice. As we do so, the percentage in differences of China-U.S. relations will only come down.”
Li added: “We don’t want to see a trade war breaking out between the countries.”
The government said Sunday it was aiming for 6.5 percent GDP growth this year, down from 6.7 percent last year. He said his goal was to generate 11 million urban jobs in the coming year, and that China would continue to champion globalization and free trade.
He pointed to the country’s 11 pilot free trade zones, and promised more steps aimed at easing business barriers.
“China is committed to opening up,” Li said. “All parties have benefited from globalization. Some issues and problems may have occurred in this process, for example, with respect to distribution, but we don’t think that is the result of globalization per se.”
While many expect China to step up its global leadership in the wake of the U.S. withdrawing from the multinational trade deal TPP, Li said he kept “an open mind for regional trade but China has no intention to overreach itself.”