Cooperation is the best choice for China and the US,” Ga

 said. “This is not only beneficial to the two countries and their peoples, but also conducive to the entire world.”

The words came as the US Department of Commerce reported that the US trade deficit with China narrowed by 6.4 perce

nt to $34.5 billion in January. US goods exports to China dropped 22.3 percent to $7.1 billion, the lowest since Sep

tember 2010, and Chinese imports dropped 9.6 percent to $41.6 billion, the Commerce Department said.

The trade imbalance has been at the center of monthslong tensions between China and the US. Other iss

ues at the top of the list for their consultations include technology transfers and protection of intellectual property rights.

Gao said guaranteeing that companies can pursue technical cooperation based on voluntary principles and business rules is cond

ucive to creating a fair and competitive business environment and promoting high-quality economic development.

“It is in line with China’s need to further deepen reform and opening up,” he said.

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The Chinese government has never imposed any policy

 to force foreign companies to transfer their technology,” Gao added, sayi

ng that the country’s Foreign Investment Law bars forced technology transfers.

The newly passed law, approved this month and set to take effect in January, stipulates that China will treat foreign and Chi

nese enterprises equally and protect their intellectual property rights. Under the law, foreign enterprises will recei

ve pre-establishment national treatment, in addition to a negative list system for market access.

A negative list shows areas where investment i

s limited or prohibited for foreign investors, with all other areas presumed to be open.

Gao said the ministry is working with relevant de

partments to conduct research on shortening the negative list for market access.

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ation and safety officials Daniel Elwell, Robert

US senators sharply questioned regulatory officials on Wedne

sday about the Federal Aviation Administration’s reliance on Boeing Co’s engineers to cert

ify the safety of the company’s new 737 Max 8 aircraft, which was involved in two fatal crashes in the past five months.

A self-certification procedure called Organization Designation Authorization came under scr

utiny at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s aviation subcommittee in Washington. Testifying wer

e Daniel Elwell, acting FAA administrator; Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Saf

ety Board; and Calvin Scovel III, Transportation Department inspector general.

For decades, the FAA has delegated some authority for certifying new aircraft to the manufacturers, reducing government costs.

After the crashes of Lion Air in Indonesia in October and Ethiop

ian Airlines this month, which killed a total of 346 passengers and crew members, critics have ci

ted the self-certification process as evidence of an overly cozy relationship between the FAA and the industry.

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Event planned to fete PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary

More than 60 countries will send naval delegations to participate in the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Peo

ple’s Liberation Army Navy in late April, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday.

The celebration will showcase the progress of the PLA Navy and its growing capabili

ty in safeguarding China’s overseas interests as well as regional and world peace, an expert said.

The multinational naval event will take place in Qingdao, Shandong province, in late Ap

ril, said ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian. April 23 is the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy’s founding.

The naval event will include high-level dialogues, an international fleet review, military band performances, cultural and sports e

xchanges as well as other activities, Wu said. Some nations will send military ships to participate in the fleet

review, though details are still in the works and will be announced at a later date, he added.

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isit shows EU seeks deeper cooperationuropean Commiss

Editor’s Note: President Xi Jinping visited Italy, Monaco and F

rance from March 21 to 26. Why is the visit important for China-European Union rela

tions? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily’s Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:

Visit sets positive tones for China-EU relations

Xi’s visit to the three European countries has yielded substantial fruits of cooperation, the most significant being the

signing of a memorandum of understanding between China and Italy paving the way for Italy to participate in th

e China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative to promote mutual development.

The cooperation deals in fields such as trade and infrastructure that Italy has signed with

China will help the Italian government to boost the country’s economic recovery. For instance, the exp

ort of Sicily’s red oranges to China by air will be a small but important step toward boosting bilateral trade.

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Retail sales of local government bonds attract eager

Chinese local government bonds worth 1.4 billion yuan ($208.5 million) were snapped up by retail investors within a single day, after counter sales in banks we

re made available for the first time. The fundraising will help supplement a broader fiscal deficit this year, analysts said.

On Monday, individuals in China were able to purchase bonds issued by t

he Zhejiang provincial government (five-year term, 3.32 percent coupon rate) and the N

ingbo city government (three-year term, 3.04 percent coupon rate). Proceeds from the sales will be used for land purchases (300 million yuan) and shantytown renovations (1.1 billion yuan), acc

ording to a notice on the website of China Central Depository and Clearing, a clearinghouse under the central bank.

The minimum investment amount for retail investors is 100 yuan, lower than most wealth management products issu

ed by commercial banks. Previously, individual investors could only purchase bonds issued by the central government, kno

wn as treasury bonds. And before Monday, local government bonds were traded mainly in the interbank market.

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According to the Ministry of Finance, local government

nts in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Shandong provinces as well as Beijing will eventually be able to sell bonds at count

ers in commercial banks directly to retail investors, and the practice will be expanded nationwide after an additional period of time.

The ministry said individuals do not need to pay taxes on the bonds’ interest income, and this policy is likely to attract more investors.

Selling local government bonds to retail investors should facilitate liquidity

in the secondary market, improve the market-oriented bond pricing mechanism and pu

sh issuers to enhance the quality of information disclosure, said Amanda Du, a Moody’s vice-president and senior analyst.

“Higher coupon rates compared with treasury bonds, and the tax exemption on the interest income, make

local government bonds more attractive for retail investors,” she said. “The fast takeup by retail investors also indicates that the

bonds have won high recognition among individual buyers, supported by the local governments’ high credit ratings.”

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Finance Minister Liu Kun said at a forum on Sunday tha

t the government plans to accelerate local government bond issuance this year. “We are tryi

ng to complete the issuance of the new bond quota of 3.08 trillion yuan by the end of September.”

“We will urge local governments to inject funds into projects quickl

y in order to stabilize investment and expand domestic demand,” said Liu.

In the first two months, issued local government bonds totaled at 782.1 billion yuan. Among this, 326.1 bil

lion yuan was raised through special purpose bonds, a type just like United States municipal bonds, the ministry said.

hina will further facilitate foreign enterprises’ venture ca

pital investments in Chinese companies, said Premier Li Keqiang at the Boao Forum for Asia on Thursday.

The country will also improve the regulations on foreign investors’ strategic invest

ment in mainland-listed companies as well as on their mergers and acquisitions with domestic enterprises.

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The government gave itself the option of bringing May’s dea

back to parliament on Friday, although speaker John Bercow repeated his warning that he

would not allow a third vote unless the motion had changed substantially since its last defeat.

May, who voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, had already promised to step down before the next election, due in 2022.

Her deal, defeated in parliament by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on Jan 15, mea

ns Britain would leave the EU single market and customs union as well as EU political bodies.

But it requires some EU rules to apply unless ways can be found in the future to ensure no bor

der posts need to be rebuilt between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

Many Conservative rebels and the DUP object to this “Irish backstop”, saying it risks binding Britain to the EU for years.

To succeed, May needs at least 75 lawmakers to come over to her side.

After the ERG met, a spokesman said: “There is no way enough votes are

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While May was addressing her lawmakers, MPs in the mai

n chamber debated eight other Brexit options, ranging from leaving abruptly with no deal to revoking the divorce altogether.

While there was no majority support for any, the option calling for a referendum on any depa

rture deal, and another suggesting a UK-wide customs union with the EU, won more votes than May’s deal did two weeks ago.

Oliver Letwin, a Conservative former cabinet minister who led parliament’s unusual power grab, said it ha

d been expected that none would immediately win a majority, and lawmakers would have another chance on Monday.

The uncertainty around Britain’s most significant political and economic change since W

orld War II has left allies and investors aghast. Sterling dipped after Wednesday’s events.

If May’s deal were to pass, her office said there would be a contest to replace her after May 22, when Britain would leave the EU.

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