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China PM seeks tie-ups with rich nations in emerging economies

[PARIS] China wants to team up with the West to modernise its own economy, but also to help smaller developing countries in Asia and Africa, Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in Paris on Wednesday.

In recent years, China has muscled out Western nations from emerging economies, but appears to be changing tack, signing a "historic" deal with France this week to carry out joint projects in Asian and African countries.

Mr Li, on the second day of a high-profile visit to France, said China could also work with other Western nations to create growth in developing countries.

The premier said some six billion people lived in developing countries, a "huge market" which could not always afford the industrial equipment needed to spur growth.

While China could provide affordable equipment, he said emerging economies would also need more advanced technologies and Beijing was therefore looking to "form joint ventures or co-operatives" with the developed world.

Providing better quality products to poorer countries would "also help us meet targets of reducing energy consumption," he added.

China, which has too many factories and is struggling with a slowdown in domestic demand, is pushing its companies to seek new markets abroad.

"Let us work together to help improve infrastructure, industrialisation, poverty reduction. Doing that will serve the interests of all of us," said Mr Li.

"It will help developing countries gradually move towards prosperity, it will help China find a market for its production capacity and also force China into upgrading its own industries domestically.

"China will also be able to learn from developed countries in this process and make itself more succesful in reducing energy consumption."

The Chinese premier was speaking at the headquarters of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

Mr Li said his country was hoping for "policy advice and recommendations for China's modernisation drive" after joining the OECD's development centre which brings together rich and developing countries who share knowledge and advice on stimulating growth.

He said while China was the world's second biggest economy, it still ranked only 80th in terms of GDP per person, at US$7,589.

Although China had managed to lift 600 million people out of poverty, by UN standards 200 million people were still living in poverty - "the population of France, Germany and the UK combined," he said.

"Our goal is that by the middle of this century China will enter the ranks of the mid-developed countries.

"China's development cannot be achieved without the rest of the world. That is why we need to promote global cooperation on production capacity."

AFP