China open to any deal boosting regional economic integration

Updated 2017-01-25 10:03:00 CGTN

China will support any initiative that is conducive to regional economic integration, a spokesman from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told CGTN.

Lu Kang said the world's second-largest economy believes it is necessary to have multilateral free trade arrangements alongside the development of the world economy and globalization.

The remarks were aired after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Lu said China had kept a keen eye on the "very hard" TPP negotiations, but noted that despite being very open to such multilateral agreements the country had never been involved in the process.

"China has been very open to this idea, because in principle, China supports any kind of approaches or initiatives that might be conducive to economic, regional cooperation."

But the foreign ministry spokesman added that some Obama administration officials used the pact as a "geopolitical tool."

"What made us a little bit uncomfortable is that sometimes some officials in the Obama administration would rather take it not as a kind of full effort to promote the free trade arrangements in this area, but as a kind of geopolitical tool."

Only after ratification by at least six signatories which together have a GDP of more than 85 percent of the total of all 12 nations can the TPP enter force. With the US out of the deal, the trade pact's future is in severe jeopardy.

Lu told CGTN that China has many existing bilateral trade agreements and is "ok" with such deals, but added: "We also believe that alongside the development of world trade and world economics and globalization it's also necessary to have… multilateral free trade arrangements."

"In the very beginning China supported the WTO (World Trade Organization) to play a central role in all those arrangements, but we are also open to any kind of regional trade agreements."

Lu stressed that China is very interested in potential cooperation via the frameworks of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

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