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Australian PM Morrison urges China to reform its economy

SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called upon China to reform its economy to end a trade war with the United States.

Morrison warned that the trade war between Beijing and Washington was damaging the global economy.

Speaking days before a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping that is seen as vital in preventing an escalation in their trade war, Morrison said China’s economy should reflect its maturity.

The Australian Prime Minister said that forced technology transfer was not fair. He added that Intellectual property theft cannot be justified, regardless of where it started.

“Industrial subsidies under the model do promote overproduction. China’s rise has now reached what I would describe a threshold level of economic maturity.”

The Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rarely going beyond urging an end to the U.S.-China trade war, Morrison’s rare critique of China threatens to stoke tensions with Beijing.

While two-way trade between the nations has grown since Australia and China signed a trade pact in 2015, increasing to a record A$183 billion ($127.46 billion) last year, the bilateral relationship has been strained since the free trade agreement.

In late December 2017 former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull accused China of meddling in its domestic affairs, while the relationship was further soured by Canberra’s decision last year to ban Huawei from its 5G broadband network.

But after Morrison became prime minister in August, he sought to repair the relationship with China by refraining from public criticism of Beijing, though irritations between the two continued.