19:10 GMT +315 December 2017
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    China Voices Readiness to Lead World in Free Trade After US' Pullout From TPP

    © AFP 2017/ FRED DUFOUR
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    China is prepared to become the top global proponent of free trade and lead the fight against protectionism, Chinese International Economic Affairs Department head Zhang Jun said Monday.

    BEIJING (Sputnik) — During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to scrap the TPP during his first day in office, a pledge which has apparently been followed up. Trump has also often criticized and pledged to repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) unless the agreement was renegotiated in a way that would prove more favorable to the United States. The new administration is also expected to at least delay talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    "China is not seeking such leadership. But speaking of the situation today, it must be stressed that it was not China which surged ahead, but it was the West, which used to support openness, multilateralism and globalism, that took a step backward, leaving the space open for China… In such conditions, China will have to accept such responsibility if it must play the leading role in the fight against protectionism," Zhang said during a briefing on Chinese leader Xi Jinping's recent speech in Davos.

    Last Tuesday, Xi's opening speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos took a swipe at encroaching protectionism and staunchly advocated globalization and free trade. The Chinese leader stated that no country would benefit from trade wars in an apparent dig at new US President Donald Trump, who is scrapping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), has threatened to impose higher import barriers and has accused China of manipulating its currency.

    In the briefing, Zhang rejected that the speech was a reaction to Trump's statements, but acknowledged that it was relevant to the US president's protectionist policies.

    "I think that Xi Jinping did not want to start a public debated with Donald Trump by opposing protectionism, but wanted to peacefully discuss ways to jointly resolve problems in the global economy," the diplomat said.

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    trade deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), United States, China
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