China's premier used an Australian newspaper column to warn Trump 'protectionism offers no genuine protection'

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has issued another warning to the Trump administration against protectionist trade policies, saying globalisation is “inseparable” from peace.

“Protectionism offers no genuine protection,” Le writes in a column for The Australian today, in comments clearly aimed at US president Donald Trump’s threats to impose new trade restrictions in the hope of bolstering US industry.

Trump has warned of putting tariffs as high as 45% on Chinese imports.

Li says that amid “heightened geopolitical rivalry and local conflicts, the existing international order and system is being called into question”, adding that in China’s experience, “isolation and complacency brought upon us untold sufferings in modern times, reform, opening up and the path of peaceful development have en­abled China to benefit from and contribute to globalisation.”

He wrote:

We have seen in practice how the trend of economic globalisation has become closely interconnected with, even inseparable from, peace, development and co-operation. Self-isolation will never lead one to the land of happiness. Cutting oneself off could neither ensure success of one’s own ­endeavour nor peace and development of the world at large. A trade war will not make trade fairer. Protectionism offers no genuine protection.

History cannot be turned back, just as the trend of the times cannot be reversed. We must overcome difficulties and solve problems in the course of moving forward and keep on advancing. In this spirit, China firmly commits to building a peaceful and stable ­environment regionally and globally, opening the door to the outside world and warmly stretching out our hands for co-operation. We stand ready to work with other countries to support economic globalisation and free trade, improve the global governance system and facilitate progress of mankind.

Beijing has become an unlikely defender of globalisation and free trade since Trump’s election last November. In January, Li’s superior, Chinese president Xi Jinping, spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos and warned that “no one will emerge as a winner in a trade war”.

Li echoed these comments in his column, which is ostensibly about tourism co-operation between China and Australia and Li’s upcoming visit Down Under. China has become Australia’s biggest source of foreign tourists over recent years.

The Trump administration pressed home its intentions on trade restrictions at the G20 finance ministers’ meeting last weekend, with the communique from the event containing significantly diluted language on free trade. The statement only said that member states were “working to strengthen the contribution of trade” to their economies, a departure from the previous year’s promise to combat “all forms” of protectionism.

You can read the full column at The Australian >>

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