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China economy

Xi Jinping urges China to become more self-reliant during tour of southern manufacturing hub

  • Chinese president says manufacturing is key to making country strong
  • First public comments on visit to Guangdong stress need to develop its own technology
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 12:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 11:37pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that China must become “self-reliant”, state media reported, as he toured the country’s manufacturing hub.

Xi arrived in the southern province of Guangdong on Monday, and visited the precision moulding plant and a key laboratory at Gree Electric Appliances in Zhuhai, one of the country’s biggest manufacturers.

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There he said the country must develop its manufacturing industry and technology to become a “strong” country, according to People’s Daily, the official Communist Party mouthpiece.

“To go from a big country to a strong one, we must give paramount importance to the development of the real economy,” Xi said in his first official comments during the visit.

“Manufacturing is a key to the real economy, and the core strength of manufacturing is innovation, or the control of core technologies.

“We must … seek innovation by relying on ourselves, and I hope all enterprises will work in this direction.”

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The Guangdong visit comes amid the escalating trade war with the United States and slowing economic growth.

US President Donald Trump is pressing Beijing to change its “unfair trade practices” by imposing additional tariffs on Chinese imports, something the Chinese government sees as an effort to contain China’s rise.

Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser, told the Financial Times on Sunday that Beijing had offered no sign that it was willing to meet US demands in a way that could defuse tensions ahead of a likely meeting between Trump and Xi at the G20 in Argentina next month.

Kudlow said the US had given China “a detailed list of asks” but “the problem with the story is that they don’t respond. Nothing. Nada.”

For its part, Beijing insists it supports free trade and blames the US for the stand-off.

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However, recent US moves, including the decision to sanction ZTE Technologies, a major telecom equipment maker, for trading with Iran, have given renewed impetus to efforts by Chinese policymakers to cut the country’s reliance on imports for its key components and technologies.

During the visit to Gree’s facilities, Xi said China must show “backbone and determination” in growing its own technological strength and improve “independent innovation capabilities”.

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Gree Electric Appliances, the country’s leading manufacturer of air-conditioning units, is held up as a symbol of Chinese manufacturing and its chairwoman, Dong Mingzhu, is one of the country’s best-known business leaders.

On Tuesday morning, Xi attended the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, the world’s longest sea bridge, which is meant to forge stronger links between the two former colonies and the mainland.