China announces plans to stabilise growth amid trade war with US

Lamar Ellis
March 17, 2019

China will "never" ask its firms to spy on other nations, Premier Li Keqiang said Friday, amid U.S. warnings that Chinese telecommunications behemoth Huawei poses security risks.

"We hope the negotiations will have results", he said.

Washington and Beijing have been locked in a tit-for-tat tariff battle as US presses China for an end to practices and policies it argues have given Chinese firms unfair advantages, including subsidizing of industry, limits on access for foreign companies and alleged theft of intellectual property.

Li also sought to soothe concerns that the tax cuts soon rolled out by the government will weigh on local finances, promising the central government will offer support to provinces in central and western China via payment transfers.

The United States and China have exchanged tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, and China's exports and imports plummeted much more than expected in February.

The NPC on Friday passed the foreign investment law at the closing meeting of its annual session.

"Moreover, we can deploy quantity-based or price-based policy tools such as reserve requirements and interest rates".

Li said China would follow through on its reform pledges, including the implementation of regulations for a new foreign investment law.

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Last week Li laid out a lower growth target of 6.0-6.5 percent this year, from 6.6 percent growth in 2018, which was already the slowest pace for nearly three decades.

"Keeping steady growth of China's economy in itself is an important progress", he said. China's high-tech poster child Huawei continues to face pressure from the United States and some of its allies for this reason.

"China's economy will remain an important anchor of stability for the global economy", Li said.

"In actual practice, our goal is to generate the same amount of job opportunities as we did past year, which is over 13 million", Li said.

"Keeping our major economic indicators within a proper range is first and foremost about ensuring employment and preventing a surge in unemployment", he said, adding that the country will adopt a combination of measures to boost employment.

Li's comments suggest Beijing will roll out more stimulus measures to ease the strain on businesses and consumers.

"In terms of policy support - we may provide public rental housing units to private actors to provide services such as mobility, daycare, etc. Tax breaks may be provided to these service providers in terms of expenses on water, electricity and natural gas", he said.

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