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On Structural Reform: “What Cannot be Changed Will Not Be Changed”

At the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s regular press briefing on Tuesday, December 18, a reporter asked, “It is reported that Peter Navarro, Director of the White House National Trade Council, said that the purpose of the US-China trade negotiations is not only to ask China to buy more American products. More importantly, China needs structural reforms. What is your response?”

Spokesperson Hua Chunying started with a vague statement, “It is hoped that teams on both sides can earnestly implement the consensus reached at the meeting of the two heads of state … seeking mutually beneficial and win-win results.”

In response to Navarro’s, “China needs structural reforms” question, Hua then suggested that Navarro and “officials or people who hold these thoughts” should “carefully read and study” Xi Jinping’s speech at the celebration of the 40’s anniversary of China’s “Reform and Opening Up” policy earlier that day. Hua continued and repeated paragraphs from Xi’s speech.

In particular, he said, “To advance reform and development in a large country like China with more than 5,000 years of civilization and more than 1.3 billion people, there is no textbook that can be regarded as a golden rule and there is no one who can boss us around like a master teacher.”

“We will resolutely change what should be and can be changed and will resolutely not change what should not and cannot be changed.”

These words were much tougher than the 45-hour speech of Xi Jinping at the Trump-Xi meeting on December 1. At that meeting, Xi Jinping personally promised China would carry out structural reforms; Xi’s promise clearly played an important role in the agreement of the 90-day trade truce.

Source: Radio France International, December 18, 2018