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China's premier slams trade tensions as EV exports are hit by tariffs

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Open markets and green technologies are vital for stabilizing global growth, China's premier said Tuesday, while criticizing trade tensions as he opened a conference in northeastern China.

Premier Li Qiang told political and business leaders attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the “Summer Davos," that China is on track to attain Beijing's growth target this year of 5%.

Countries should “work closely together, reject bloc confrontation, oppose decoupling and disconnection, maintain the stability and smoothness of industrial and supply chains, and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation,” Li said in a speech to the conference.

“We cannot slow down our pace in green transition in exchange for short-term economic growth nor practice protectionism in the name of green development or environmental protection,” he said.

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China is facing pushback over its electric vehicle exports, which some governments fear will flood markets and hurt domestic producers. The European Union and Canada among others are mulling surtaxes on Chinese EVs.

China and the E.U. said over the weekend they are open to talks over the tentative tariffs after Beijing last week announced an anti-dumping probe into European pork, largely seen as retaliation for the EV duties.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh joined the business leaders and economic and technology ministers attending the forum, held in the port city of Dalian.

China's economy grew at a 5.3% annual pace in January-March, though it has slowed significantly in recent years. Shutdowns and other disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic worsened a longer-term weakening of growth as authorities cracked down on excess borrowing by property developers, tipping the industry into a downturn.

Li compared China's economy post-COVID to a person recovering from a serious illness who needs to readjust gradually. Beijing is aiding the recovery with tools such as industrial upgrades and support for the “silver economy” – businesses aimed at the country’s ageing population – he said.

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Associated Press video producer Caroline Chen in Beijing contributed to this report.

Simina Mistreanu, The Associated Press