China Committed to Peace Despite Challenges, Vice President Says

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- A top deputy to Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirmed China’s commitment to market-based economic reforms, while warning that the international order “was under attack.”

Vice President Wang Qishan, who’s one of China’s best known economic reformers, told Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum on Thursday that the country would follow through on policy changes despite facing serious challenges at home and aboard. He said the country would continue to let the market play a “decisive role” in the allocation for resources and stick to the path of peaceful development.

“Between war and peace, the Chinese people firmly choose peace. Humanity cherishes peace,” Wang said in his keynote address in Beijing. “We should abandon the zero-sum thinking and cold war mentality.”

The New Economy Forum is being organized by Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. Other guests include Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Wang’s speech comes as the U.S. and China work to assemble a partial trade agreement, even as broader tensions mount in the U.S.-China relationship from human rights concerns over Hong Kong and the western region of Xinjiang to strategic competition in the South China Sea. The sides are making progress in key areas, according to people close to the talks, even as concerns grow that efforts to nail down the first phase of a broader deal are stalling.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign legislation passed by Congress supporting the Hong Kong protesters, a person familiar said, after the bill was approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday and passed the House 417-1 on Wednesday.

Trump -- facing an impeachment inquiry at home -- may seek a political win by reaching a trade deal with China. Policy makers in Beijing face their own troubles with a slowing economy at home, as well as factory-price deflation, a fragile financial system and spiraling food costs in the wake of a catastrophic disease epidemic among the nation’s pig herd.

“Development must be balanced and inclusive,” Wang said Thursday. “We need to work together to make economic globalization work for all people across the world.”

Wang struck a less confrontational tone than when he addressed the same forum last year in Singapore as trade tensions were at a crescendo. In his remarks last year, he both reaffirmed China’s desire to move forward with trade talks and warned that his country wouldn’t again be “bullied and oppressed” by foreign powers.

--With assistance from Dandan Li and Tian Ying.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Peter Martin in Beijing at pmartin138@bloomberg.net;Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Sharon Chen

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