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Premier Li says further opening-up of economy to benefit everyone

Ren Xiaojin, Zhang Yunbi, Li Xiang and Xin Zhiming
Updated: Mar 21,2018 6:50 AM     China Daily

China will open domestic industries such as services and manufacturing even wider to foreign investors, lower tariffs to increase imports and streamline its negative list for market entry to make it “a market for domestic and foreign firms regardless of their ownership to compete on a level playing field”, Premier Li Keqiang vowed on March 20.

The Premier also urged the United States to treat Sino-US trade relations rationally and relax its restrictions on high-tech exports to China, given that a trade war does not serve the interests of either side.

China still has a lot of potential and space for further economic opening-up, Premier Li said at a news conference right after the conclusion of the first session of 13th National People’s Congress.

“The Chinese economy has become deeply integrated into the global economy and closing the door would only block its own way,” he said. “If there is something that will be different from the past, it will be that China will open even wider.”

China will expand the entry of foreign companies in the services industry, such as elderly care and health, education and finance, lift foreign-owned equity limits in some areas and fully open the manufacturing sector. “There will be no mandatory requirement for technology transfers, and intellectual property rights will be better protected,” Premier Li said.

The country plans to adjust and shorten its negative list system, which is a global practice defining areas that are not allowed for foreign investment, and eliminate import tariffs on drugs, especially anti-cancer drugs, and on consumer goods that the people urgently need, he said.

The Premier said US enterprises should take advantage of the opportunities provided by China’s wider economic opening-up, and the US should relax its control of high-tech exports to China to help bridge bilateral trade gaps.

US President Donald Trump announced early this month that the country will levy hefty tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products from many of its major trade partners, including China, a step that analysts said could lead to a trade war between the world’s top economic powers.

Premier Li said that a trade war does no good to either side, and no one will emerge as a winner. If it is necessary to use the term “war”, it means the rules of trade are being violated, because trade is realized through negotiations, consultation and dialogue, he said.

Last year, China-US trade was valued at more than $580 billion, and Premier Li said it was achieved using business rules and market principles.

He said China does not want to see a large trade surplus with other countries, including the US. “What we want to see is an overall trade balance; otherwise, this kind of trade would not be sustainable.”

China-Japan ties

On March 20, Premier Li also said he is ready to consider attending the China-Japan-Republic of Korea leaders’ meeting and making his first official visit to Japan in the first half of this year amid the “sustained momentum” of improving China-Japan relations.

Bilateral ties are warming up again, but the nations also need to watch for any possible return of a chill, he said.

The last visit to Japan by a Chinese premier was made by then-premier Wen Jiabao in 2011 to attend the Fourth China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting and visit earthquake-hit areas.

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