China’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, took a conciliatory tone towards Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday, saying that Beijing does not want a trade war with the US but is seeking a “positive direction” for relations.
Mr Li’s upbeat message comes after months of uncertainty in Beijing on where US-Sino relations are heading under Mr Trump.
His comments were also geared towards creating a more relaxed environment at an expected first meeting next month between Mr Trump and Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.
“We are optimistic about the China-US relations, because we have had broad common interests over the many decades,” Mr Li said, at a press conference held at the end of the annual meeting of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC).
Mr Trump has angered Beijing with a series of confrontational tweets after he was elected president last November, and also threatened to hit China with high tariffs during his campaign.
But a telephone conversation between the billionaire president and Mr Xi last month appeared to cool tensions between the world’s two most powerful leaders.
Beijing’s Communist rulers are keen to maintain stability and achieve domestic and foreign policy goals in the run up this autumn’s Party Congress, a highly sensitive meeting which is held once every five years.
The political gathering will see dozens of leaders being appointed to senior positions as Mr Xi and Mr Li began their second terms.
Mr Xi is likely to meet Mr Trump early next month at the US president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Mr Li would not confirm the summit will take place, but said senior officials were working to set up a meeting between the two leaders.
"I believe whatever differences we may have we can all sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions,” Mr Li said.
“We do not want to see any trade war breaking out between the two countries. That would not make our trade fairer,” he told reporters at the tightly-scripted press conference.
"Our hope on the Chinese side is that no matter what bumps this relationship hits, we hope it will continue to move forward in a positive direction.”
Trade between the US and China in 2016 created up to a million jobs in the US: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (Photo: Xinhua) pic.twitter.com/A9IxjbWXEW— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 15, 2017
Business links between Mr Trump’s family and China have come under scrutiny in recent months.
A report by Bloomberg earlier this week suggested that the family of Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, stands to receive $400million (£330) from a property deal with Chinese firm Anbang Insurance Group.
However, Anbang on Wednesday denied the allegations, saying the “information….is not correct” and that “there is no investment from Anbang for this deal.”
Requests from The Telegraph for the company to clarify its statement went unanswered.
Additional reporting by Christine Wei