China defends 'win-win' trade with US as Trump set to brand it a competitor

US President Donald Trump is expected to lay out a new national security strategy that makes clear that China is a competitor. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's Foreign Ministry on Monday (Dec 18) defended trade with the United States as a win-win scenario ahead of a speech by US President Donald Trump laying out a new national security strategy that makes clear that China is a competitor.

Trump has praised Chinese President Xi Jinping while also demanding that Beijing increase pressure on North Korea over its nuclear programme and changes in trade practices to make them more favourable to the United States.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said she was unable to comment on the strategy until it was unveiled.

But in principle, China hopes the strategy can play a constructive role in promoting world peace and stability and promoting China-US strategic mutual trust, Hua told a daily news conference.

The essence of China-US trade and economic ties is mutually beneficial and win-win, directly and indirectly supporting 2.6 million US jobs, she added.

In 2015, the profits of US firms that invested in China reached US$36.2 billion, and China will continue to support trade and investment liberalisation, Hua said.

"We are willing to work hard with the US side to dedicate ourselves to building a robust, stable and healthy trade and economic relationship," she added.

That was in the interests of both sides and the expectation of the international community, Hua said.

The national security strategy to be rolled out in Trump's speech, should not be seen as a bid to contain China but rather to offer a clear-eyed look at the challenges it poses, said US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump made his first visit as president to China last month, where he lauded his meetings on trade and North Korea as "very productive".

Washington has refrained from pushing harder on trade because it needs China's cooperation on North Korea, though Xi, at least in public when Trump was in Beijing, went no further than reiterating China's determination to achieve denuclearisation through talks.

China and the United States have also repeatedly clashed over trade issues, including state support for Chinese firms and intellectual property rights violations in China.

On Friday, China's finance ministry said it would cut export taxes on some steel products and ditch those for sales abroad of steel wire, rod and bars from Jan 1, stirring concern in the United States and Europe that the world's top steel producer may be looking to sell its excess product abroad.

It follows a ministerial level G20 meeting in Berlin last month, where China and the United States remained at odds over how to tackle excess steel capacity. The global steel sector is worth about US$900 billion a year.

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