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Premier Li meets US bigwigs on bilateral ties, common concerns

Updated: Sep 22,2016 9:39 AM     Xinhua

Premier Li Keqiang (C on stage) addresses a welcoming dinner party organized by the Economic Club of New York, the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council in New York, Sept 20, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

NEW YORK — Premier Li Keqiang has met here with a group of leading figures in the US economic, think-tank and media circles to deliberate on Chinese policies, discuss bilateral ties and exchange views on issues of common concern.

Remarks and statements made by Premier Li, who was in New York for a series of United Nations conferences and engagement with a wide spectrum of Americans, have been well received, and deemed by local figures as conducive to promoting China-US Relations.

REASSURING ABOUT CHINESE ECONOMY

On concerns about a slowing Chinese economy, Premier Li said on Sept 20 that the economy needs and is capable of maintaining medium-to-high growth rate.

Premier Li made the statement when addressing a welcoming dinner party organized by the Economic Club of New York, the National Committee on US-China Relations, and the US-China Business Council.

Faced with weak global economic recovery and waves of geopolitical conflicts, no countries can stay immune to these unstable and uncertain factors, Premier Li told about 1,000 elites of American businesses.

China’s economy, which has been deeply integrated into the world, is slowing down, but still maintains stable growth, at an annual rate of 6.7 percent for the first half this year, which is not easy for an economy that has reached $10 trillion, he said.

With an annual growth rate of 6 percent to 7 percent, China’s economy each year can add the volume equivalent to a medium-sized economy, Premier Li said.

The Chinese economy still needs to grow at medium-to-high rates to deal with 14 million extra population of labor force in urban areas each year and China also needs to wage war on poverty which is still plaguing over 50 million Chinese people, the Premier said.

China is capable of maintaining this medium-to-high growth rate, thanks to its ongoing efforts to restructure and upgrade its economy and the emergence of new growth driving forces and dynamics, Premier Li reassured the audience.

FRICTIONS JUST NORMAL, BUT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED

Speaking to a welcoming dinner party organized by the Economic Club of New York, Premier Li also touched upon the economic and trade frictions between the two countries and calling upon the two sides to expand common interest and properly handle differences.

When bilateral trade and investment grow from nearly nothing to its current enormous volume, it is only inevitable that frictions might arise, said Premier Li.

Frictions are not the dominating element in China-US economic relations but just a minor part of cooperation, the Premier said.

However, they should not be ignored, and the two sides should work to resolve their differences before they spread to others areas of the relationship, Premier Li said.

“Our common interest is far greater than our misunderstandings and differences,” said the Premier, adding that the ongoing bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations between the two countries are a signal showing that the two sides would further open up to and make investment in each other.

The Premier urges the US side to take a pragmatic and flexible attitude and work with China to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win, high-level BIT.

On China’s business environment, Premier Li said while complaints from some American business people impressed him, he also read a report by the US-China Business Council which told a different story.

In its annual survey, the council found 90 percent of US businesses operating in China were profitable, up from 85 percent in 2014. The Premier also cited increased investment by US enterprises in China.

China is still working to improve its business environment for foreign enterprises, and as part of its overall drive to further open up, China has streamlined procedures for foreign investment, said Premier Li.

THE SKY CLEARS UP AFTER RAINS

Hours before the welcoming dinner party, Premier Li met with a group of leading figures, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“It is a fact that China and the United States have both stable political relations and very close economic and trade cooperation,” Premier Li said in his opening remarks at the closed-door talks.

It’s both in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples and conducive to world peace, development and prosperity for China and the United States, the largest developing country and the most advanced developed economy, to maintain stable political ties and a close economic relationship, said Premier Li.

Acknowledging that it is unavoidable for the two countries to differ in certain areas due to different cultural backgrounds and national conditions, Premier Li stressed the two sides should focus on mainstream and the general direction of bilateral ties.

“Though China-US relationship has been through ups and downs in the past nearly four decades since the establishment of diplomatic ties, it has always turned out fine, just like the sky clearing up after rains,” said Premier Li. He also expressed the hope that those present at the meeting could help further promote the two nations’ relationship with concrete actions.

Stressing that China will continue with its opening-up policy, Premier Li said Beijing will work even harder to streamline the administration, delegate more power to lower levels, and protect intellectual property rights so as to create a better and more convenient business environment.

“China-US investment cooperation enjoys great potential, and I believe the US enterprises will see an ever-expanding market in China as well,” the Premier said.

Premier Li also said he hoped that the United States could relax export restrictions on high-tech products and that the two countries could reach a mutually beneficial BIT at an early date.

Calling the current anti-globalization trend “only a setback during the process of globalization,” Premier Li said the world needs to fix the flaws of globalization, instead of simply giving it up.

He also said that China, as a firm defender of free trade, will continue to promote free trade within the World Trade Organization framework.

APPRECIATION & APPLAUSE

Premier Li’s remarks and statements have been welcomed with appreciation and applause among participants in the two events.

Barbara H. Franklin, former US Commerce Secretary, said she very much appreciates the wide-ranging remarks and candid answers to the questions given by the Premier.

“I am very pleased for the way the Premier have stressed the need to continue build trade around the world,” she added.

“Premier Li’s wonderful answers to the questions have given us an excellent overview to your government’s thinking on a range of critical policy issues,” said Carla A. Hills, chair of the National Committee on US-China Relations.

The former US Trade Representative hailed Premier Li’s meeting with Obama on Sept 19 as “continued evidence of our joint dedication to finding sound solutions to tough problems.”

“We look forward to much more collaboration in the days, weeks and months ahead,” Hills said after listening to the premier at the welcoming dinner party.

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