China's top political advisory body starts annual session


Trade tensions between the USA and China, the world's two largest economies, have risen since Trump took office in 2017, and although China only accounts for a small fraction of US steel imports, its massive industry expansion has helped produce a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.

Beijing will spend 1.11 trillion yuan (US$175 billion) on its military, according to a budget report presented before the opening session of the annual National People's Congress, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

No details were given on when the meeting will be held or who will attend, in the announcement by Zhang Yesui, spokesman for China's top legislature and ambassador to the US from 2009 to 2012.

"But if the USA takes actions that hurt Chinese interests, China will not sit idly by and will take necessary measures", Zhang said in China's strongest reaction yet since Trump announced the levies on Friday.

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, who is the National People's Congress spokesman, sidestepped a question at the legislature's opening news conference about whether Xi would stay on "forever". The 2018 defence spending increase comes as China's economic growth expanded 6.9 percent past year, the first acceleration in annual growth since 2010.

However, he insisted that cooperation was the only way to resolve those differences, citing the example of Chinese top economic adviser Liu He's visit to Washington this week for a series of meetings with USA government officials. He said the two countries had agreed to talk on economic issues for greater cooperation.

The US government recently announced a plan to impose heavy duties on steel and aluminum imports.

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Chen Fengying, a senior world economy researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said China is among the potential victims globally that stand to be affected by protectionist measures in Washington, and "timely liaison at the governmental level" is needed to avoid a deteriorating "free fall" of the situation.

BEIJING-China has no desire to overturn the existing global order and its increasingly powerful military does not constitute a threat to others, the spokesman for the country's ceremonial legislature said Sunday.

During the trip, Liu promised a group of US business leaders in Washington that he'd take on oversight of China's financial policy as part of a cabinet reshuffle this month and that he would take steps to reform China's economy, according to a person familiar with the situation.

At Sunday's briefing, Zhang said Chinese policy makers planned to consolidate three previous laws into new legislation aimed at promoting and protecting foreign investment.

Trump's tariffs may yet prompt retaliation from China.

Trump's remarks were met with laughter and applause during a luncheon for Republican donors Saturday at his South Florida estate.