China invites India as partner to counter trade headwinds from Washington

‘How to respond to the bullying practices of the United States…its practices of trade protectionism is an important question’

June 10, 2019 02:39 pm | Updated 02:39 pm IST - BEIJING:

China on Monday invited India to join a budding international effort to counter headwinds of “trade protectionism and unilateralism” and brainstorm ways to address “bullying practices of the United States”.

In response to question ahead of a meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that begins in Bishkek on Thursday, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui said at a press conference that “trade frictions between China and the United States and the spectre of trade frictions between the United States and India” could become an “important topic” for talks.

He added: “Trade protectionism and unilateralism are very much on the rise. How to respond to the bullying practices of the United States…its practices of trade protectionism is an important question.”

Mr. Zhang hoped that talks between the two leaders would yield “extensive consensus” to counter trade protectionism and uphold “justice”.

“Not only on China, it (protectionism and unilateralism) has a direct bearing on the recovery and the growth of the global economy. So, I would say it would be helpful if the two leaders can exchange views, and we hope their communications will lead to extensive consensus on upholding justice and opposing trade protectionism.”

Mr. Zhang was upbeat that the upcoming dialogue between Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi, who will also meet later this month at the G-20 summit in Japan, would “not only enhance bilateral trade (but) also play an important role in promoting global economy”.

The talks between the two leaders are likely to be part of broader dialogue between China and leaders of other countries present at the SCO summit on “bilateral as well as international issues.”

The Chinese official also stressed that at a personal level, the two leaders are “good friends”. He singled out last year’s “very successful informal summit in Wuhan,” which has imparted “strategic

guidance for the development of China-India relations, paving the way for stable growth of China-India relations in the long run”.

An official source had earlier told The Hindu that China was keen to step up preparations for the next informal summit between Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi as a follow-up to the Wuhan conclave. During official discussions, Varanasi has been proposed as a possible venue for the summit.

The rising trade and technology tensions with the U.S. appear have spurred China to seek new allies and attempt forging new rules of international trade and commerce.

Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister and State-Councilor Wang Yi identified building blocks, including an early launch of feasibility studies to establish an SCO-free trade zone and trade facilitation talks among member-countries, to withstand protectionist pressures radiating from Washington.

During a foreign ministerial meeting of the SCO at Bishkek, Mr. Wang proposed that SCO member-countries should take concrete actions to safeguard free trade and the multilateral

trading system, Xinhua reported.

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