China does not ask firms to spy on others, says Premier Li

Leroy Wright
March 17, 2019

Beijing is committed to ensuring the new foreign investment law is a meaningful milestone in its opening up to the world, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday (March 15).

China would not let the world's second-largest economy "slip out of a reasonable range", Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) said yesterday, as he pledged support in the face of "new downward pressure".

"The Chinese economy has indeed encountered new downward pressure", Li said, adding Beijing will take steps to invigorate its market that contains over 100 million households.

"This year, for the first time, we are elevating the status of employment-first policy to a macro policy together with the fiscal policy and monetary policy", Li said. However, he added that boosting lending or government spending might "lead to future problems". Gross domestic product grew 6.6 percent in 2018 - the least in 28 years.

China will bolster its national coffers by collecting more of the profits earned by some financial institutions and centrally-owned firms, while general expenditure will be cut, Li said. China's normally steady unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent in February, from 4.9 percent in December.

Li's comments suggest Beijing will roll out more stimulus measures to ease the strain on businesses and consumers.

China and the united states have become closely intertwined through years of development and cooperation, it is neither realistic nor possible to decouple the two economies, he said.

'Manifesto' sent to New Zealand PM's office minutes before Christchurch attack
A suspect in the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques on Friday appeared in court on Saturday and was charged with murder. Most of the victims of the attacks were immigrants from Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan.

"We hope the negotiations will have results", he said.

A summit to seal a trade deal between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will not happen at the end of March as previously discussed, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday.

Li also sought to soothe concerns that the tax cuts soon rolled out by the government will weigh on local finances, promising the central government will offer support to provinces in central and western China via payment transfers.

In response, China, the world's second largest economy after the United States, imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on Dollars 110 billion of American goods.

"This law will regulate government behaviour, requiring the government to perform its functions in accordance with the law", he said.

On Friday, China's parliament approved a new foreign investment law that promises to create a transparent environment for foreign firms, though there is scepticism about its enforceability. The talks and tensions stretch far beyond trade and tariffs.

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