Getting Sino-US relationship right is in people's interest: Li Keqiang

China and the US are the world’s largest developing and developed countries respectively, says Chinese Premier
Phoenix TV: At this year’s NPC Session, a decision was adopted on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR. The Standing Committee of the NPC will also set in motion a legislative process in this respect. Does this mean that the central government has adjusted its policy toward Hong Kong and abandoned “one country, two systems”? How do you respond to the various comments in this respect?

Premier Li Keqiang: “One country, two systems” is China’s basic state policy. The central government has all along fully and faithfully implemented the “one country, two systems” under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy, acted in strict accordance with the Constitution and the basic law, and supported the Hong Kong SAR government and the Chief Executive in exercising administration... The decision adopted at the NPC Session to safeguard national security is designed for the steady implementation of “one country, two systems” and for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.

NBC News: The United States continues to blame China for the global pandemic. There’s more and more talk of a cold war between the US and China. At the same time, Chinese and American officials talk of creating favourable conditions for the phase one trade deal that could help stabilise the relationship. Are you still confident that more economic reforms and concessions of China can adequately address America’s concerns, given that China’s economy has been weakened? Or if the efforts for cooperation fail, can China’s economy withstand the threat of a “cold war” and “decoupling”?

Premier Li: the moment, China-US relations have encountered some new problems and challenges. This is a very important bilateral relationship. Both the countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council. There are many areas where the two countries can and should work with each other in tackling both traditional and non-traditional challenges. There are also extensive exchanges between the two countries in economic, trade, scientific, technological, cultural and other fields. So ... there is extensive common interest between China and the US. Both the countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Getting Sino-US relationship right is in the interest of the people of both the countries and the whole world. Given the importance of this relationship, the problems that occurred... have been a cause for concern for the international community. As for a cold war, you know that we have all along rejected the “cold war” mentality. And “decoupling” between major economies will do neither side any good... I believe we should continue to work together to follow through on the important consensus reached between our two presidents and work jointly to foster a Sino-US relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability.

The economies of our two countries have become closely interconnected. Our economic and trade ties have come a long way, and both sides have benefited tremendously. Just a few days ago, an American high-tech firm announced the launch of an investment project in Wuhan. I shouldn’t do any commercial promotion for any company, but I highly appreciate this move and sent my message of congratulations to mark the occasion. I believe this example shows that the business communities of our two countries need each other, and our business cooperation can be of mutual benefit.

I believe the economic cooperation and trade between our two countries should follow commercial principles. We should leave the decisions to the market and the business leaders. The job of the government is to establish platforms for the business communities of the two countries. China and the US are the world’s largest developing and developed countries respectively. Given the differences in our social systems, cultural heritage and historical backgrounds, some disagreements and even frictions may be unavoidable. What’s important is how we manage them. The relationship has been moving forward amid twists and turns in the past several decades, featuring both growing cooperation and some bumps along the way. Indeed, this is a complex relationship. We must use our wisdom to expand common interests and manage differences and disagreements. In a word, I believe that the two countries should develop a relationship on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit... and embrace cooperation. That will be conducive to the interests of both countries and the world.

Asahi Shimbun: Covid-19 has taken a big hit on the global economy. But China has been successful in bringing the spread of the virus under control. What does China plan to do to advance economic cooperation with Japan and other neighboring countries? What is China’s plan for advancing the FTA among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other free trade arrangements? Does China have a plan to join the TPP?

Premier Li: I recall that last year at the leaders’ meeting of East Asian cooperation, leaders of 15 countries made the commitment of signing the RCEP by the end of this year. I hope and believe that this commitment will not come to nothing. China, Japan and the RoK are also working closely together to advance their FTA development. The three countries are close neighbours, and we would like to work with the other two countries to develop a mini economic cycle within the bigger economic cycle. For example, recently China and the RoK have opened a fast-track service for personnel inter-flows in areas such as commerce and technology. We believe this will benefit the resumption of economic activities, and our geographical proximity has put us in a good position to benefit from this earlier.

As for your question about TPP, I suppose what you mean is the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). China has a positive and open attitude toward joining the CPTPP.
Edited excerpts from a press conference by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, May 28

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