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China's opening up could offset US trade frictions

China central bank adviser, Liu Shijin, says the nation will not backtrack but forge ahead with reforms


CHINA'S opening up of its economy will help it cope with trade frictions with the United States, a central bank adviser said on Tuesday, adding that China cannot go backwards on its market reforms.

But China will forge ahead with its reforms at its own pace, Liu Shijin, an adviser to the People's Bank of China (PBOC), said at a finance forum in Beijing.

An escalating trade war with the United States is threatening to overshadow China's plan to celebrate 40 years of economic achievements since reforms initiated by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in December 1978.

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China and the United States have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars of each others' goods, roiling financial markets and adding to fears of a slowdown in global economic growth.

Washington is demanding that Beijing improve market access and intellectual property protection for US firms, cut subsidies and narrow a record trade gap.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump are due to meet over trade at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.

"The Sino-US trade frictions are still ongoing, private firms' expectations are unstable, and some people are saying they cannot see clearly and are a bit anxious," Mr Liu said.

To cope with the trade frictions, China should implement a high level of opening up of its market and economy, but it will push ahead with those reforms on its own steam and "not by being forced by others", he said. The European Union has also urged China to take "concrete" steps to further open its market to foreign firms and provide a level playing field.

EU business lobbies say reform commitments have failed to go far enough.

In recent months, China has also been accused by some Western governments of pulling other nations into a debt trap with its so-called Belt and Road initiative. China has denied the charge.

At home, struggling small businesses are worried that Beijing is more focused on supporting giant state-owned enterprises and deepening the presence of the ruling Communist Party in private firms than helping entrepreneurs tide over a period of slowing growth.

"We have achieved great success in building a market economy after 40 years, but it's still imperfect. China's market economy is still at low level and imperfect," Mr Liu said.

But China will persist with its reforms, allowing the market to play a decisive role in allocating resources, he said. REUTERS