Chinese premier to head to UN, Canada and Cuba as economic worries at home ease

Li Keqiang is to make his first trip outside of Asia in more than a year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 2:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 2:02am

Premier Li Keqiang will make his first trip outside Asia in more than a year as economic worries at home ease.

Li was due to attend the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly and pay official visits to Canada and Cuba from September 18-28, the foreign ministry said yesterday.

Li stayed home for about eight months as economic growth slowed, and the country’s stock markets and yuan exchange rate swung wildly late last year and early this year.

Li visited Mongolia in July and Laos earlier this month.

Backed by strong economic indicators for August, Li was set to take the chance at the UN to ­assure the world that the Chinese economy was on an even keel, ­observers said.

China’s economy shows more signs of strengthening as industrial output picks up, investment holds steady

Renmin University international relations specialist Shi Yinhong said Li would send the message that the risk of a hard-landing for the Chinese economy had passed.

It’s a good time now for Li to assure the world that it can relax about China
Renmin University international relations specialist Shi Yinhong

“China’s economic performance was far from satisfactory in the past year, and the world was deeply worried over whether China could keep growth on track,” Shi said.

“It’s a good time now for Li to assure the world that it can relax about China.”

Data released on Tuesday by the national statistics agency suggest that the economy is rebounding, with stable fixed-asset investment and accelerated ­industrial output.

At the same time, capital outflow pressure has eased in recent months compared to late 2015, and the country’s stock market is less volatile.

China’s new loans beat expectations in August but home mortgages still main driver

Wang Chunxin, a senior research fellow at Bank of China (Hong Kong) said Li could divert attention from short-term economic headwinds to China’s long-term strategies. “Li will stress China will move forward with the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative as a way to strengthen economic cooperation with other countries,” Wang said.

Li will be the first Chinese premier to visit Canada in 13 years with a mission to improve bilateral ties in the wake of Canada’s application to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Beijing earlier this month.

Li will also be the first Chinese premier to visit Cuba since the socialist countries established diplomatic ties 56 years ago.