Thursday, March 23, 2017

Li Keqiang calls for more trade with Australia

Li Keqiang calls for more trade with Australia

2017-03-23 HKT 11:38

  
  • Premier Li Keqiang inspects the Federation Guard during a ceremonial welcome at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: AFP
    Premier Li Keqiang inspects the Federation Guard during a ceremonial welcome at Parliament House in Canberra. Photo: AFP
Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday warned against protectionism, saying his country planned to close its US$50 billion a year deficit with Australia by expanding the trading relationship rather than retreating from it. 

Li said in a speech at Australia's Parliament House that globalisation created “some problems”, but that free trade was not to blame. 

China “cannot close our doors” to solve its trade imbalance with Australia, which last year left the Chinese with a US$50 billion deficit largely through industrial demand for iron ore and coal, he said. 

“We believe that to resolve trade imbalance, we need to continue to expand trade,” Li said. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested that as well as trade, the two leaders will discuss tensions in the South China Sea over competing territorial claims. 

“Premier Li and I will discuss, as we have before, the importance of upholding and maintaining stability in our region,” Turnbull said. “We believe China has much to contribute to global peace and prosperity in this time of rapid change.” 

Li said China would work with Australia to ensure freedom of navigation in distributed regions. 

China will “never seek hegemony and dominance,” he said, adding China needed a stable world environment to grow its economy. 

Li was welcomed to Parliament House by a 19-gun salute and distant protest chants of anti-China demonstrators who were kept well away from the Chinese leader. 

About 100 Tibet and Xinjiang separatists along with Falun Gong supporters were cordoned off from a similar number of China fans who wielded national flags and beat drums on the front lawn of Parliament House. (AFP)