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China urges US to not act 'emotionally' on trade

© AFP | Premier Li Keqiang vowed China would further open its huge market to foreign firms

BEIJING (AFP) - 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called on the United States Tuesday to not act "emotionally" and to avoid a trade war, as President Donald Trump considers new punitive measures against Beijing.

After announcing tariffs on global steel and aluminium imports, Trump is now mulling new actions against China over its "theft" of US intellectual property.

Washington has long accused Beijing of forcing US companies to turn over proprietary commercial information and intellectual property as a condition of operating in China.

But Li pledged that China "will strictly protect intellectual property rights".

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently proposed a package of $30 billion in tariffs on China but Trump wants it to go higher, according to US media.

The US trade deficit with China ran to a record $375 billion last year -- but US exports to the country were also at a record.

"Nobody will emerge as a winner" from a trade war, Li told a press conference after the country's annual parliament session.

"We hope that both parties can maintain reason, not act emotionally, and avoid a trade war," said Li, who was given a second five-year term by the National People's Congress on Sunday.

Li vowed that China will further open its huge market to foreign firms, and make it easier for companies in the services sector -- such as healthcare, education and finance -- to gain access.

"We will completely open the manufacturing sector. We will not allow the forced transfer of technology," he said.

It is not the first time that Chinese officials have promised to improve access to foreign firms, but US and European companies still complain about major hurdles.

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China summed up the exasperation last year as "promise fatigue" -- a complaint that challenges Xi's image as a champion of globalisation.

© 2018 AFP