China is committed to opening up the world’s second-largest economy and delivering reforms to help stimulate growth, Premier Li Qiang said on Thursday.
Speaking at the annual Boao Forum, being held in the island province of Hainan, Li added that geopolitical tension would only hold back development worldwide.
Li’s comments are his latest calls for Beijing to bolster its economic recovery in the face of strained relations with the United States and its allies over everything from Russia’s war in Ukraine to technology exports and Taiwan.
His comments were delivered on a panel alongside the prime ministers of Malaysia, Singapore and Spain – which all have close trade and diplomatic ties with Beijing.
“No matter what changes take place in the world, we will always adhere to reform and opening up,” Li, who took office this month, told the panel.
“We will introduce a series of new measures in expanding market access and optimising the business environment … Peace is a prerequisite for development,” he said.
‘Improving economic indicators’
Covid curbs battered China’s economy for three years before being dropped in December, and Li said there were signs a recovery was starting to take hold.
“Judging from the situation in March, it’s better than in January and February. In particular, major economic indicators such as consumption and investment continue to improve, while employment and prices are generally stable,” Li said.
China has set itself a modest target for gross domestic product growth of about 5% this year, after significantly missing its target for 2022. That is lower than what the International Monetary Fund and some private forecasters think it can achieve.
Veiled US remarks
In his speech, Li said “chaos and conflicts” must not happen in Asia and that China would act as an “anchor” for global peace.
He said Beijing opposed trade protectionism and decoupling, in veiled comments aimed at the United States, and its ongoing chip war that aims to hobble China’s military.
Relations between the two superpowers have been tense for years and worsened last month after the US military shot down a high-altitude Chinese balloon, saying it was a spying craft.
Another flashpoint in US-China rivalry has been Taiwan, the democratically ruled island that China claims as its territory.
In the latest escalation, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York on Wednesday for the first of two US stopovers that Beijing has called provocative.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena