Premier Li Keqiang and four vice-premiers at a media briefing at the close of the annual National People's Congress on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

China and the United States should be rational, instead of emotional, when it comes to bilateral trade as both countries will suffer if a trade war starts, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday.

“There will be no winner if a trade war is triggered between China and the US,” Li said in a media briefing at the close of the First Session of the 13th National People’s Congress in Beijing. “Trade disputes should always be resolved through compromise, negotiation and dialogue.”

Li said China and the US should avoid any trade war.

“Last year, China-US bilateral trade reached US$580 billion. We relied on market forces and followed commercial rules to achieve this, otherwise the trade figure would not be that big,” Li said, adding that China also wants to have a trade balance with the US to maintain sustainable growth in bilateral trade.

On March 8, US President Donald Trump proposed imposing 25% and 10% tariffs respectively on steel and aluminum imports. The move was seen as a Trump administration tactic to reduce the trade deficit with China and protect US steel and aluminum makers.

Accompanied by vice-premiers Han Zheng, Sun Chunlan, Hu Chunhua and Liu He for the first time in a media briefing after the 16-day annual NPC meeting, Li was asked by a US reporter about his views on a potential US-China trade war.

Li said China will continue to open its economy, particularly in the service, manufacturing and commodity sectors, where US companies could find new opportunities. He said China hopes the US will loosen its restrictions and export more high-tech and high value-added products to China.

Li said more exports to China could help the US reduce its trade deficit and also make money, while China will strictly protect foreign companies’ intellectual property rights.

Korean peninsula

When asked about the Korean peninsula, Li said China would do its utmost to promote the denuclearization of the peninsula and maintain peace and stability in Korea.

“We hope that all parties concerned will show sincerity and take action to bring North Korea’s nuclear issue back to the negotiating table as soon as possible in a bid to push forward denuclearization and peace and stability on the peninsula,” Li said.

He added that there was high degree of concern about the matter in China as it was geographically very close.

On March 9, Trump said he had agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The time and place of the proposed meeting have not been fixed.

Belt and Road initiatives

Li was also asked by a Lianhe Zaobao reporter about whether he thought neighboring countries were worried about the rise of China and its expansionist strategy.

“China contributed 30% of the world’s economic growth in these past few years. It has helped the global economy to revive and contributed to world peace,” Li said.

Li said China would continue to play its part in peaceful development and would not invade other countries. He said China follows market rules to cooperate with Belt and Road countries and was willing to help some developing countries without asking for political benefits.

He also said China helping other countries should not be misunderstood as strategic expansion.

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