Election result won't hit Sino-US ties: Chinese Premier

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at a press conference at the National People's Congress in Beijing, on March 16, 2016.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at a press conference at the National People's Congress in Beijing, on March 16, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Ties between China and the United States will continue to advance regardless of who wins the US presidential election in November, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said, amid increasing scathing attacks on Beijing as the campaign heats up.

"I believe that, no matter who in the end wins the laurel and serves as president, the underlying trend of China-US ties will not change," Mr Li said yesterday at a press conference wrapping up the country's annual parliamentary session.

That trend over the past few decades has been "forward development", he added, noting that the election "has been lively and caught the eye of many".

Mr Li's remarks come even as China has become a flashpoint in US politics, with anti-Beijing campaign rhetoric growing louder as the election season looms.

Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, for instance, has accused China of stealing American jobs, while Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that China will engage in more damaging practices in global trade as its economy weakens.

Beijing has largely avoided commenting on the US election campaign, saying it is an internal matter.

Yesterday, Mr Li stressed that areas of cooperation, such as strong economic ties, continued to outnumber areas of differences. Last year, China became the US' top trading partner, with trade volume hitting US$560 billion (S$773 billion).

"We have more than a hundred mechanisms for dialogues and exchanges. If we are sincere in these and manage our differences, I believe we will continue broadening our mutual benefits," he said.

Mr Li also said both sides will pursue a bilateral investment treaty - an agreement on foreign investors and investments - and urged Washington to be fair in granting market access to Chinese firms.

"We will gradually open up access for American investment into China," he said. "But there should be reciprocity and I hope that, in the course of negotiations, the US will also abide by the principle of fairness and win-win cooperation."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Election result won't hit Sino-US ties: Premier'. Print Edition | Subscribe