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Trade war

China tells UN: tariffs, trade disputes could plunge world into recession

High-level trade talks remain on track in early October

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at the United Nations headquarters.   © AP

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- China's top diplomat said on Friday that tariffs and trade disputes could plunge the world into recession and Beijing was committed to resolving them in a "calm, rational and cooperative manner."

In blunt speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: "Erecting walls will not resolve global challenges, and blaming others for one's own problems does not work. The lessons of the Great Depression should not be forgotten."

In a clear swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump, who started a damaging trade war on China nearly 15 months ago, Wang added, without naming the U.S. leader:

"Tariffs and provocation of trade disputes, which upset global industrial and supply chains, serve to undermine the multilateral trade regime and global economic and trade order.

"They may even plunge the world into recession."

In successive round of tit-for-tat tariffs between the United States and China have levied punitive duties on hundreds of billions of each other's goods, roiling financial markets and threatening global growth.

A new round of high-level talks between the two sides is expected in Washington in the first half of October.

Wang's remarks, unusually pointed for a Chinese diplomat, coincided with word that the Trump administration is considering radical new financial pressure tactics on Beijing, including the possibility of delisting Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges.

Sources told Reuters on Friday that the move would be part of a broader effort to limit U.S. investments into Chinese companies, in part because of growing security concerns about their activities.

Wang also took aim at Trump's policy on North Korea, in which ground-breaking talks between Pyongyang and Washington have stalled, largely over the U.S. refusal to ease punishing sanctions.

Wang said it was necessary for the United Nations to consider invoking the rollback terms of North Korea-related sanctions resolutions "in the light of new developments" on the Korean Peninsula "to bolster the political settlement of the Peninsula issue."

He said "the realistic and viable way forward" was to promote "parallel progress in denuclearization and the establishment of a peace mechanism" to gradually build trust "through phased and synchronized actions."

Wang reiterated comments made earlier in the week, stressing China's commitment to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country.

"On the international stage, we speak for justice and oppose hegemonism or bullying," Wang said.

Shortly before Wang's speech, China and Kiribati formally resumed diplomatic ties at ceremony he presided over at the Chinese Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

The move followed the Pacific island state's decision to ditch relations with Taiwan, which the United States supports with arms supplies and which Beijing considers a renegade province.

"I do believe that there is much to learn and gain from the People's Republic of China and the reestablishment of our diplomatic relations is just the beginning," Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau said at the event.

The Solomon Islands and Kiribati are the latest countries to switch relations to China, leaving self-ruled Taiwan with formal ties to only 15 countries.

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