China is committed to opening up the world’s second-largest economy and delivering reforms that can help stimulate growth, Premier Li Qiang said on Thursday, adding that geopolitical tension would only hold back development worldwide.
Li’s comments at an international business summit in the island province of Hainan, are his latest calls for Beijing to bolster its economic recovery in the face of strained relations with the United States and its allies over everything from Russia‘s war in Ukraine to technology exports and Taiwan.
His comments were delivered on a panel alongside the prime ministers of Malaysia, Singapore and Spain – which all have close trade and diplomatic ties with Beijing. “No matter what changes take place in the world, we will always adhere to reform and opening up,” Li, who took office this month, told the panel at the annual Boao Forum. “We will introduce a series of new measures in expanding market access and optimising the business environment … Peace is a prerequisite for development,” he said.
COVID curbs battered China’s economy for three years before being dropped in December, and Li said there were signs a recovery was starting to take hold. China has set itself a modest target for gross domestic product growth of about 5% this year, after significantly missing its target for 2022. That is lower than what the International Monetary Fund and some private forecasters think it can achieve.
“Judging from the situation in March, it’s better than in January and February. In particular, major economic indicators such as consumption and investment continue to improve, while employment and prices are generally stable,” Li said.
In veiled comments aimed at the United States, which is working with its allies to stymie China’s access to advanced technologies such as microchips, Li said Beijing opposed trade protectionism and decoupling.
Relations between the two superpowers have been tense for years and worsened last month after the United States shot down a high-altitude balloon off the U.S. East Coast that it says was a Chinese spying craft.
Another flashpoint in U.S.-China rivalry has been Taiwan, the democratically ruled island that China claims as its territory. In the latest escalation, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York on Wednesday for the first of two U.S stopovers that Beijing has called provocative. In his speech, Li said “chaos and conflicts” must not happen in Asia and that China would act as an “anchor” for global peace.