China defended its trade practices Thursday as being beneficial to the world as it tries to ease pressure from the United States and Europe to abandon what they consider to be Beijing’s protectionist policies.
China’s rapid economic growth “has brought great opportunities to trading partners all over the world,” Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said at a Beijing news conference.
Wang unveiled a report highlighting reforms China has taken since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001.He said Beijing has “carried out every promise” since joining the WTO.
Wang’s defense of China’s business practices come amid threats of a trade war with the United States and arguments by Europe and Washington that China limits access to emerging industries and steals or forces other countries to hand over technology.
Trump’s threat of tariff increases on Chinese goods worth up to $450 billion reflects fears that China’s actions are a threat to America’s technological leadership.Germany and other countries have complained that Beijing prohibits purchases of Chinese assets while Chinese companies engage in a worldwide spending spree.
The dispute with Trump has allowed China, which has the world’s second largest economy, to position itself as a defender of free trade.When asked about possible U.S. plans to limit Chinese investment in its technology sectors, Wang said, “We hope countries concerned can do the right thing and adopt policies that support free trade and investment.”
The U.S. and other trading partners maintain China’s emergence in the smartphone, solar and other technology sectors means it should no longer be afforded protections it was granted as a developing country when it joined the WTO.
China has offered to cut its multi-billion trade surplus with the United States, but has refused to abolish a strategy that its Communist leaders believe is a path to increased global influence and prosperity.
China and the European Union announced this week they will form a group to update WTO rules to keep pace with global economic developments.