Xi says China will boost cooperation with foreign groups

China's President Xi Jinping (right) talks with Chief Executive Officer of Disney Bob Iger as they meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 5, 2016.
China's President Xi Jinping (right) talks with Chief Executive Officer of Disney Bob Iger as they meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 5, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - President Xi Jinping told Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Iger on Thursday (May 5) China would encourage more cooperation with foreign companies and organisations, amid persistent US-China commercial tensions.

Trade friction is an issue in the US presidential race, with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump asserting China has waged "economic war" on the United States, destroying American jobs. On Sunday, he compared the US trade deficit with China to "rape".

China recently passed a law governing foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which has been roundly criticised by the US government and business groups.

"China will facilitate exchanges and cooperation for foreign companies, organisations and personnel," China's official Xinhua news agency cited Xi as telling Iger.

"China-US economic and trade cooperation is an important part of bilateral relations. The two countries' economies are complementary and there is great potential and wide prospects for trade cooperation."

Xi also reiterated that China supported an early conclusion of a US-China bilateral investment treaty.

The United States reported a US$366-billion (S$497 billion) trade deficit with China in 2015, up from US$343 billion in 2014 - the largest US imbalance with any nation.

China's new foreign NGO law, passed last week despite intense criticism and lobbying by the West, brings such groups under the Ministry of Public Security, giving police broad authority over NGOs' finances and work.

Disney's US$5.5 billion Shanghai resort, a joint venture between the US entertainment giant and Chinese state-backed consortium Shanghai Shendi Group, is scheduled to open on June 16.