China calls for dialogue with US over likely trade disputes

Beijing, Jan 4 (IANS) China asked the United States on Wednesday to resolve possible bilateral trade disputes between the two countries through negotiations, while stressing that strong economic ties will benefit both.

The comments by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang follows the appointment of lawyer Robert Lighthize, known for being critical of China, as the chief trade negotiator in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

“The nature of China-US relations in trade has mutual benefits and it has been proven over years of development that both countries’ interests have become highly intertwined,” Efe news agency quoted Geng as saying at a press briefing on Wednesday.

“As for the problems that might arise in the process of economic cooperation and trade, we should pursue a proper approach to resolve them through consultation and negotiations,” added Geng.

Lighthizer, who will head the US body that negotiates and oversees the country’s trade agreements, is noted for his tough-talking stance towards China, a country he has accused of unfair trade practices.

His designation to the post follows that of another economist, Peter Navarro, known for opposition to Chinese policies, and who is set to head the newly-created White House National Trade Council.

The choices for these posts have sparked fears in Beijing that the American government under Trump — who continues to hit out at China — will unleash a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Official figures say commercial exchanges between the two nations grew to nearly $600 billion in 2015, although the balance of trade was clearly tipped in favour of Beijing.