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Li Keqiang Free trade not to blame for global problems

In his maiden speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra, during his five-day visit to Australia, Li said globalisation created “some problems,” but free trade itself was not to blame.

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, on Thursday warned against protectionism, saying his country planned to expand the 108 billion dollars two-way trading relationship, instead of retreating from it.

In his maiden speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra, during his five-day visit to Australia, Li said globalisation created “some problems,” but free trade itself was not to blame.

“It is all about how to respond to it, China’s 50 billion dollars trade deficit with Australia should be resolved by continuing to expand trade.

“We cannot close our doors; China’s relationship with Australia was like flying through a lightning storm.

“We flew across the clouds, there was lightning but we kept flying and that is the same for China-Australia relations,” Li said through a translator.

He said that the relationship “will keep moving forward and forward and forward”.

Li and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will hone details on Friday to expand on the two-year-old bilateral free trade pact.

Li was welcomed with a 19-gun salute in Canberra, as hundreds of Tibetan, Uighyur, and Falun Gong protesters chanted slogans against China’s alleged human rights abuses.

They came with placards reading “China stop bribing Australia,” “Free Tibet” and “Stop persecuting Falun Gong”.

Activist Nurmuhammad Majid said East Turkestan, an ethnic Uyghur separatist movement in western China, had been occupied by the Chinese government since 1949 and Tibet since 1951.

“Since then the Chinese government has implemented a crackdown on policies, ethnic persecution and religious persecution in these two regions,” he said.

On the other side of a police barrier, several hundred Chinese students wearing red shirts and carrying large Chinese flags turned up to welcome the premier.

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