China and the US should manage their disagreements and respect each other's "core interests", Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday, warning the Trump administration that any attempts to decouple the top two major economies will do neither side any good and also harmful to the world.
The US is currently involved in a tense showdown with China on the issue of trade, the origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Beijing's new security crackdown in Hong Kong and the communist giant's aggressive military moves in the disputed South China Sea.
Addressing his annual press conference at the end of the parliament session on Thursday, Li, the No. 2 leader of the ruling Communist Party hierarchy after President Xi Jinping, spoke guardedly replying to questions about the growing confrontational relationship between Washington and Beijing with threats by President Donald Trump to decouple the two economies, the world's largest and the second largest.
"It is true that at the moment China-US relations have encountered some new problems and challenges," Li said, admitting that the ties between the top two economies are going through a rocky time.
"Getting Sino-US relationship right is in the interest of people of both the countries and the whole world," he said, without directly referring to host of issues raised by Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo almost daily, blaming Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic and accumulation of massive trade surplus in the bilateral trade.
"Our economic trade ties have come a long way and both sides have benefitted tremendously," Li said, adding that both the economies are interlinked.
On the Cold War-like situation between the two countries and threats of decoupling of the economies which could seriously disrupt the supply chains in China built over decades, Li said, "We have all along rejected the Cold War mentality. And decoupling between major economies will do neither side any good and it is harmful to the world."
Referring to considerable investments by US firms in China, he said such decisions should be left to markets and business instead of government interventions.
He said considering differences in social systems and historical backgrounds between the two countries, differences are inevitable.
"So some disagreements and frictions may be unavoidable. What is important is how we manage these disagreements and differences. The relationship is moving forward amidst twists and turns for several decades featuring both growing cooperation and some bumps along the way," he said.
"Indeed, this is a complex relationship. We must use our wisdom to continue to expand common interests and properly manage differences and disagreements," he said.
"This is a very important bilateral relationship. Both the countries are a permanent member of the UN Security Council. In many areas the two countries can and should work with each other tackling both traditional and non-traditional challenges," he said.
Referring to bilateral links forged over the decades, Li said, "It is fair to say there is an extensive common interest between China and the US. Both the countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation."
"I believe that the two countries should respect each other and develop the relationship on the basis of equality and respect each other's core interests and major concerns and embrace cooperation. That will be conducive to both countries and to the world," he said.
China has faced constant criticism from US President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo over the origin of the coronavirus and its failure to provide timely information, resulting in the death of over 3 lakh people across the world. The US on Wednesday crossed the grim milestone of over 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday the US was pushing the bilateral ties to the brink of a "new Cold War" by spreading "lies" about the coronavirus.