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Asian Crisis Won’t Deter China

April 28, 1998

BEIJING (AP) _ Asia’s financial turmoil won’t deter China from revamping its banking sector and liberalizing trade rules, its foreign trade minister said today.

The crisis, which has dragged down many economies in the region, has demonstrated the need to create better conditions for investors and thereby bring in the capital and technology to stimulate economic growth, Shi Guangsheng said.

``We will not slow down our reforms, but rather speed them up,″ Shi told visiting German business executives.

Specifically, Shi vowed to reduce trade tariffs from the current average of 17 percent to the level of developed countries by 2000 and then to an average 10 percent by 2005. He reiterated China’s pledges not to devalue its currency and to reach 8 percent growth this year.

China’s ability to meet the growth target and its commitment to liberalizing trade have recently been called into question.

Statistics released last week showed economic growth slowing to 7.2 percent in the first quarter, compared to 8.8 percent recorded in the whole of 1997.

The slowdown is due in part to poor performance by already weak state industries. The persistent sluggishness of state enterprises, already heavily indebted to state banks, could complicate financial sector reforms.

Speaking at the opening of the 7th Asia-Pacific Conference of German Industry, German Economics Minister Gunter Rexrodt praised the results of China’s reforms.

Noting that China was Germany’s leading Asian trade partner after Japan, Rexrodt said German investment and technology will continue but urged Beijing to improve protection for patents, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property rights.

``If intellectual property rights are not safeguarded, companies will hesitate to transfer technology,″ Rexrodt said.

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