China vows to fight back if USA escalates trade spat

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The speech was short on specifics.

Xi said those restrictions would be liberalised, pledging "to quickly relax restrictions on foreign shareholding, especially the restrictions on foreign investment in the automobile industry". State media reported that Beijing will allow foreign investment in trust, financial leasing, auto finance, money broking and consumer finance sectors, among other changes due within this year.

Xi's remarks - his first public comments since Beijing and Washington began sparring over tariffs - at first appeared conciliatory. Xi also used the speech to address global security and development, saying that "Cold War mentality and zero-sum games are becoming increasingly obsolete and outdated".

"China seems to have gotten a lot of mileage from Xi's rote statements and minor concessions that Trump has turned around and spun as evidence of his deal-making prowess", said Eswar Prasad, a senior professor on trade policy at Cornell University in the United States and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

China's overall exports and imports both grew at a strong double-digit clip early in the year, and while exports unexpectedly fell in March - resulting in a rare trade deficit - most analysts chalked it up to seasonal factors and said it was too early to call a trend. Tariff increases will make USA soybeans uncompetitive, causing them to be replaced by products from Brazil and Argentina, according to Chen Yang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. For trade talks to take place under the current environment is "even more impossible".

It added the 2018 outlook for Chinese investment in the U.S. doesn't look much better as the sides are now locked in an escalating fight over trade.

However, China was not willing to accede to a key USA demand-that it stop subsidizing the 10 high-tech industries targeted in the "Made in China 2025" program.

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"China's cheek is something to behold given that they are building a new global order alongside the one they pledged to leave undisturbed", wrote Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.

SYRIA: President Trump put off a final decision on possible military strikes against Syria after tweeting earlier that they could happen "very soon or not so soon at all".

Touted as Xi's pet project, the BRI has become a major stumbling block in India-China relations as the controversial $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been listed as its "flagship project".

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished higher Thursday led by tech and bank stocks. Shares rose in Taiwan and in most Southeast Asian markets.

There are still hopes that Trump's headline-grabbing tariffs are part of a plan to take a harsh line as a bargaining tactic towards a deal with China.

The latest comments from both leaders appear to reinforce a view that a full-scale trade war can be averted, although there have been no talks between the world's two economic superpowers since the USA tariffs were announced.

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