China’s Li backs closer communication, global cooperation

At first in-person ‘Summer Davos’ in three years, Premier Li Qiang says globalisation means countries must work together.

China's Premier Li Qiang speaking at the WEF in Tianjin. He is standing at a lectern and holding his right arm up as he makes a point.
China's Premier Li Qiang opens the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin [Wang Zhao/AFP]

Chinese Premier Li Qiang has called for more “communication and exchange” to avoid misunderstanding, in his remarks at the opening of this year’s “Summer Davos” in Tianjin, the first in-person event in three years following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three-day summit, which got under way on Tuesday, is hosted by the World Economic Forum but will focus heavily on China’s place in the world and concerns about how the global economy can move forward in an increasingly fractious world, according to the agenda.

Li told delegates it was time to support globalisation and deeper economic cooperation.

“In the West, some people are hyping up what is called ‘cutting reliance and de-risking‘,” Li said.

“These two concepts… are a false proposition, because the development of economic globalisation is such that the world economy has become a common entity in which you and I are both intermingled. The economies of many countries are blended with each other, rely on each other, make accomplishments because of one another and develop together. This is actually a good thing, not a bad thing.”

The summit parallels Beijing’s self-branding as a “champion of multilateralism” in a bid to differentiate itself from the United States, where protectionist trade policies directed at China are on the rise.

The administration of US President Joe Biden is expected to finalise an executive order in the coming weeks to limit outgoing US investment to China in critical fields like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and advanced semiconductors due to national security concerns.

The executive order has reportedly been in the making for two years and would complement a separate bill before the US Congress that, if passed, would also restrict investment in industries like pharmaceuticals and cars.

Amid the legislative activity, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen may travel to China next month to meet her Chinese counterpart He Lifeng and carry out damage control, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday citing unnamed officials.

Yellen has said targeted US measures like investment restrictions are “motivated solely by our concerns about our security and values” and not “to gain competitive economic advantage” over Beijing.

She has also called for a “de-risking” approach to China that would allow US-China trade to continue rather than a “disastrous” de-coupling that would further divide the two superpowers.

If the trip goes ahead, Yellen will be the second cabinet-level US official to visit China in as many months, following a trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this month after differences over issues such as Taiwan, semiconductors and an alleged Chinese spy balloon flying above the US heightened tensions.

Both Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump have tried to restrict US companies and their partners from doing business with Chinese companies linked to the military and the state as well as applying punitive tariffs on Chinese companies for alleged unfair business practices.

Beijing has responded with its own tariffs and sanctions. Both sides, however, now appear ready for a détente.

US and Chinese officials have increased face-to-face meetings since the start of the year, opening the way for Blinken’s trip to China earlier in June and a brief meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

US President Joe Biden has also said he hopes to meet Xi in the coming months, which experts predict could happen at the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the US at the end of the year.

The two men last met in Bali in 2022, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting hosted by Indonesia.

Source: Al Jazeera