China tries to defuse trade pressure, says world benefits
A report repeats promises to cut some tariffs and ease controls on foreign investment.
BEIJING — China’s government defended its trade record as a benefit to the world in a new effort June 28 to defuse US and European pressure over market access and technology policy.
A Cabinet report repeated promises to cut some tariffs and ease controls on foreign investment but mentioned no new initiatives. It didn’t address complaints Beijing hampers access to promising industries and that plans for state-led development of Chinese champions in electric cars and other industries violate its free trade commitments.
President Donald Trump has threatened tariff hikes on up to $450 billion of Chinese imports in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. China has tried to recruit Europe as an ally in the dispute but also faces complaints by Germany and other governments that it bars purchases of Chinese assets while its own companies are on a global acquisition spree.
“China has lived up to its responsibility as a major country,” said the report. It said China’s growth has contributed to “global peace and development.”
It was the latest attempt by President Xi Jinping’s government to deflect pressure for change by emphasizing the benefits of trade with the world’s second-largest economy.
Beijing has offered to narrow its politically volatile trade surplus with the United States but has resisted pressure to roll back ambitious technology plans.
The ruling Communist Party sees those as a route to prosperity and global influence. But its trading partners complain Beijing improperly subsidizes fledgling Chinese suppliers and shields them from competition.
Chinese officials have tried to appeal to Europe by promising to buy more of its farm goods and saying its companies are welcome to invest. They repeated that message during visits by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May and French Premier Edouard Philippe this week, though they did not directly address complains about market and investment barriers.
Merkel and other European officials are frustrated by Trump’s tactics but say they are not allying with Beijing.
The report emphasized changes since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 including cuts in import duties and improved protection of foreign patents and copyrights.
Foreign business groups say that while Beijing has made legal changes promised when it joined the WTO, regulators have thrown up new barriers by imposing licensing and other requirements.