China remains open for trade with foreign partners and can only benefit from an economically strong Europe, its premier said on Saturday as he pressed for expanded ties with the continent’s eastern wing while waging a tariff war with Washington.
Li Keqiang told a summit with central and eastern European leaders that China would continue opening its markets and implementing other reforms that had fueled its economy, providing opportunities for EU members and aspirants in the bloc’s poorer half.
“…Opening up has been a key driver of China’s reform agenda so we will continue to open wider to the world, including widening market access for foreign investors.”
Li’s attendance at the seventh “16+1” summit in Sofia coincided with the first salvos in what risks becoming a protracted global trade war, as Washington and Beijing slapped tariffs on $34 billion worth of each others’ goods.
Some participating countries have begun doubting the value of the annual meetings, and China has come under pressure to show its courting of individual countries from the Baltics to the Balkans would not hurt the European Union as a whole.
“If Europe is weakened, it will only be bad news for China, not the other way around,” Li said. “This (16+1) platform needs to stay open. It needs to be transparent.”
Officials from the EU, World Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development were invited and Li said those organizations were welcome to jointly fund projects in central and eastern Europe.