Chinese president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang, right, singing the national anthem at the opening of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People on May 22, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images
BEIJING — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang used a key meeting Thursday to highlight the opportunities China offers to foreign businesses, in the wake of the coronavirus shock to the global economy.
His comments come as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to escalate.
“We believe that all members of the global community should pull together in a sense of partnership to prevail over the current difficulty,” Li said after China’s annual parliamentary meeting concluded, according to an official English translation of his Mandarin-language remarks.
He reiterated would China would open its markets further to foreign businesses, and how Beijing and Washington should continue to find ways to work together, despite differences that have arisen.
“We have all along rejected the ‘cold war’ mentality and decoupling among two major economies will do neither side no good and it is also harmful for the whole world,” Li said.
“I believe economic cooperation and trade between our two countries should continue to follow business rules,” he said. “We should leave the decision to the market and to business leaders.”
The highlights for the roughly week-long National People’s Congress meeting included discussions on economic priorities and stimulus, and the passing of a new legislation on Hong Kong. The high-level annual meeting comes as China faces the new challenges brought on by the coronavirus epidemic.
Li, the country’s second-in-command, spoke with reporters following the closing ceremony of the NPC, which typically takes place in March. This year, however, the meeting was postponed due to the virus outbreak.
One of the first major announcements at this year’s parliamentary meeting was that the world’s second-largest economy would not announce an annual GDP growth target for the first time in decades.
Li cited the uncertain impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since infected more than 5.6 million people worldwide.
Instead, Chinese officials emphasized that jobs would take priority and set a target unemployment rate of 6% for urban areas. Ensuring hundreds of millions of people have jobs — especially for a record number of university graduates this year — is critical for social stability and growth in an economy set to rely more on domestic consumption.
Authorities also said they remain committed to policy goals such as eliminating poverty, supporting foreign investment into China and developing digital infrastructure, such as 5G.
The unemployment target implies growth of about 2% or 3% this year, according to Macquarie’s chief China Economist Larry Hu. The Chinese economy contracted 6.8% in the first quarter, and the unemployment…
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