China to strengthen ‘toolkit of countermeasures’ to safeguard national interests: Commerce Minister

China's commerce ministry will step up efforts in five fields as part of the efforts to building China into a trading power of both quality and quantity, including upgrading cargo trade, seeking innovations in service trade, developing digital trade, deepening international cooperation and safeguarding trade security, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said in an interview with the People's Daily published on Thursday.

Wang said China's goal of becoming a global trading power is helped by many favorable conditions. 

"We can leverage the political advantage of the CPC leadership and the institutional advantages of socialism with Chinese characteristics in pooling resources behind major undertakings. That's our foremost advantage and the fundamental guarantee for building a powerful trade country," Wang said.

In addition, the country's long-term bright economic prospect, powerful production capacity, great innovation potential, ultra-large market and sound infrastructure will all provide strong support, he said.

As the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, economic and non-economic factors are intertwined and "black swan" and "grey gray rhino" events will likely increase. Against this backdrop, China's trade development faces increasingly complex and challenging external environment, Wang said.

He said China's trade sector faces some challenges in 2024, which includes a sluggish global economy, rising protectionism and unilateralism, as well as neighboring countries' measures to attract investment. The growing spillover risks of geopolitical conflicts impact the stability and smooth operation of global supply chains. Climate change and frequent natural disasters may also increase uncertainty.

Wang said the ministry will take advantage of platforms such as the communication mechanism between Chinese and US commerce departments and export control dialogue mechanism between China and the EU as well as between China and Japan in order to narrow the differences and expand more fields of cooperation.

China will actively respond to trade frictions, improve the country's multi-party collaborative response mechanism and properly handle trade frictions, Wang said.

"Faced with unreasonable sanctions and crackdowns, we will take forceful measures to firmly safeguard our country's national interests," Wang said, adding there will be more efforts to strengthen the country's toolkit of countermeasures.

China will take legal actions such as initiating lawsuits at the WTO to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and make good use of the Unreliable Entity List, he noted.

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