China opposes trade protectionism, supports free trade: vice premier

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli makes a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) finance ministers meeting opening ceremony in Beijing October 22, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

BEIJING (Reuters) - China opposes various forms of trade protectionism and supports free trade, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Sunday, reaffirming Beijing’s stance amid worries over weak global demand.

“China is willing to work with other countries to oppose various forms of trade and investment protectionism,” Zhang told the China Development Forum in Beijing.

“We should unwaveringly push forward economic globalization ... we cannot stop our footsteps because of temporary difficulties.”

Zhang said world policymakers should make the globalization process more “inclusive” by putting more emphasis on equality.

“The world economy is in a deep adjustment, growth is weak and trade protectionism is rising,” Zhang said.

Beijing is struggling to cope with weak global demand and faces risks from growing U.S. trade protectionism as the administration under new President Donald Trump shows an aversion to globalization.

In January, Chinese President Xi Jinping, as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, offered a vigorous defense of globalization and signaled Beijing’s desire to play a bigger role on the world stage.

Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Himani Sarkar