China's trade rep says 'external pressures' can help economy

AP

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From left; Yi Huiman, Chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang, Shanghai mayor and Ying Yong applaud during a ceremony for the launch of the SSE STAR Market, previously referred to as the Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation Board, in Shanghai, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Chinese media say the country's top trade negotiator has told a forum in Shanghai that "external pressures" can help the economy. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING (AP) Chinese media reported Thursday that the country's top trade negotiator said "external pressures" can help the country's economy.

Vice Premier Liu He, speaking at a forum in Shanghai, described the pressures that China is currently facing as an "inevitable test," according to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and mainland Chinese media outlets.

"The external pressure will help us improve innovation and self-development, speed up reform and opening up, and push forward with high-quality growth," Liu said.

He did not directly reference the U.S.-China trade dispute, according to the South China Morning Post. The U.S. has accused China of stealing trade secrets and forcing American companies to transfer technology. China says the U.S. is trying to stifle its economic development.

Each country has imposed higher import duties on billions of dollars of goods from the other side.

Last month, the U.S. Commerce Department placed Huawei on a list that effectively bars U.S. firms from selling technology to the Chinese tech giant without government approval. China said this month that it will soon release its own list of "unreliable entities" comprised of foreign businesses, organizations and individuals.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters Thursday that any foreign company that complies with Chinese laws, market rules and the spirit of contracts will not have to worry about the list.

Gao said the U.S. was dishonest in trade negotiations and went back on its word something which the U.S. has also accused China of doing.

"If the U.S. wants to force China to yield through exerting maximum unilateral pressure, it will absolutely not succeed," he said.

Chinese state media hinted last month that the country's supply of rare earths exotic minerals used in electric cars, mobile phones and other technology may be used as a trade weapon. According to figures from China's customs administration, rare earths exports were down 16% in May compared to the previous month.

Gao said fluctuations in rare earth exports were the result of changes in the market, and that China has not adopted new measures for managing its rare earths.

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AP researcher Yu Bing contributed.

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