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Chinese commerce minister rules out possibility of trade war with US

China's Commerce Minister Zhong Shan attends a news conference on the sidelines of China's National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, March 11, 2017. Photo: Reuters

A trade war would impair the interests of China and the US, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said in Beijing on Saturday.

"A trade war would not be in the interests of the two countries and their people, as it would only cause pain without gains. The two sides should strengthen cooperation and manage their differences, and use their economic and trade cooperation as the 'ballasting' and 'promoter' of the bilateral relations," Zhong said at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the country's parliament.

Since the establishment of the diplomatic ties, the China-US economic and trade relationship has been developing on the right course, as reflected in the fact that trade in goods and services between the two countries amounted to $519.6 billion and $110 billion respectively in 2016, Zhong said, adding that the economic interests of the two countries are intricately "intertwined".

Denying the notion held by many Western countries that China cannot develop without the US, the commerce minister said, "Likewise, the US cannot live without China." He cited a raft of data to support his view: 26 percent of Boeing airplanes, 56 percent of soybeans and 16 percent of cars produced in the US are exported to China currently.

"Over the past 10 years, the growth rate of US exports to China was much higher than that of Chinese exports to the US. Specifically speaking, US exports to China saw an annual growth rate of 11 percent, while Chinese exports to the US increased by 6.6 percent annually. This fully indicates that China and the US need each other very much," Zhong noted.

When answering a question about how to deal with the increasing trade frictions between China and the US, Zhong said that the leaders and governments of the two countries should make the right judgment on the bilateral trade relations, which should be based on the consensus that protectionism will be detrimental to both countries.

Amid growing concerns that the shrinking of the foreign exchange reserves in recent years may dash the Chinese enterprises' desire to invest abroad, Zhong reassured that normal outbound investment will not be affected under the Chinese government's Going Out policy that advocates international cooperation and competition. But the commerce minister said that the irrational outbound investment by problematic and unqualified enterprises would be supervised.

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