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Chinese premier calls for free trade ahead of G20 summit

Staff Writer | June 27, 2017
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for free trade "as a precondition of fair trade" and hailed the benefits of globalization, ahead of the G20 summit of leaders from the world's major economies next month.
Li Keqiang
World trade   The benefits of globalization
"Free trade is the precondition of fair trade," Li said as he opened a World Economic Forum event known as the Summer Davos in the northern Chinese city of Dalian.

"Restricting free trade will bring unequal trade."

Li's speech was reminiscent of Chinese President Xi Jinping's vigorous defence of globalization and free trade in Davos in January and contrasted with US President Donald Trump's protectionist measures and calls for "fair" trade deals.

Despite the Chinese leaders' declared support of free trade, China has long been criticized for restricting access to its market for foreign firms.

European companies last month said they find it more difficult to conduct business in China and feel less welcome than before.

But Li said China would further open up its markets and create a level-playing field for domestic and foreign enterprises.

Li also said China was controlling its financial risks amid international concerns that the country's mounting debt could further slow its economy.

China's economic growth is maintaining momentum from the first quarter, when GDP grew by 6.9% year-on-year, Li said. The country can reach its economic growth target of about 6.5% for the whole year, he said.

"China has refrained from massive stimulus," Li said, adding that the Chinese economy was relying less on exports and investments and more on consumption.

The G20 summit takes place in Hamburg, Germany on July 7-8.