(CNSNews.com) – President Xi Jinping announced Tuesday that China will “significantly lower” import tariffs for vehicles this year, telling a business conference in southern China that it will work hard to import more products that are competitive and needed by its citizens.
He also pledged to strengthen protection of intellectual property (IP) rights, saying that doing so would enhance the competitiveness of the Chinese economy, the Xinhua state news agency reported. Allegations of Chinese IP rights violations have long been an irritant in relations with the United States.
“China does not seek trade surplus,” Xi said. “We have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account.”
Xi delivered the keynote speech to the Boao Forum for Asia conference less than a day after President Trump in a tweet compared U.S. and Chinese auto tariffs, calling the disparity “stupid.”
“When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a Tariff to be paid of 2 1/2%,” he tweeted.
“When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a Tariff to be paid of 25%. Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE – going on for years!”
During the recent series of tit-for-tat tariff announcements, China threatened to double its 25 percent tax on U.S.-made vehicles. China imports more than a quarter of a million U.S. vehicles each year.
In his speech Xi did not refer directly to Trump or the escalating trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies, but he did call for dialogue rather than confrontation, speaking out against “a Cold War mentality, zero-sum thinking, and isolationism.”
At a cabinet meeting on Monday, Trump returned to his oft-repeated view of who he holds responsible for the trade imbalance.
“China has been taking advantage of the United States for many years, really, if you look at it since the start of the World Trade Organization. And they have really done a number on this country,” he said.
“And I don’t blame China. I blame the people running our country,” Trump continued. “I blame presidents, I blame representatives, I blame negotiators. We should have been able to do what they did. We didn’t do it; they did. And it’s the most lopsided set of trade rules, regulations that anybody has ever seen.”