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CNTV 2014-03-19 15:22




Lianhe Zaobao of Singapore: Last year, Chinese leaders visited many neighboring countries and put forward new vision on China’s neighborhood diplomacy and cooperation initiatives. But still there exist some disputes and differences in China’s neighborhood. I would like to ask how do you see China’s future relations with its neighbors?


Li Keqiang: You speak mandarin even better. But still we need the translation. I hope to have your understanding. China is still a developing country. To achieve modernization of the country represents the common aspiration of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. This requires a peaceful and stable neighboring and international environment. I recall that approaching the end of last year’s press conference, I once said that China has an abiding commitment to pursuing peaceful development. We also have an unshakable will in safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. These two points are both for the sake of upholding stability and creating a favorable environment for China’s development. As early as 60 years ago, China and some of its neighbors had jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. When neighbors interact with each other, it’s only natural that sometimes they will run into problems of one kind or another. But as long as they respect each other, properly manage differences and pursue mutual benefit, there will be harmonious sounds instead of jarring noises.


Your question reminds me of my visit to some ASEAN countries last year. During my visit in Vietnam, I reached principled consensus with the Vietnamese leaders about China-Vietnam cooperation in maritime joint development, on the land and in the financial sector. I was curious about how the ordinary people would think about this. So later in the evening, I took some time out of the schedule and visited a small local shop. The shopowner instantly recognized me and she said that she would like to have more Chinese customers. They would bring more businesses to her shop. I asked her how she thought about China’s relationship with its neighbors. She said there should be peace and friendship. Peace, friendship and peaceful co-existence, I believe, represent the common aspirations of all people in China and its neighbors. As long as we all work together to expand common interests and narrow differences, we can live with each other in harmony, bringing greater benefits to our people.


Reuters: China’s economy grew at 7.7% last year. In the past year since you became Chinese premier, what do you think is the biggest challenge and difficulty and what are the pressing issues that need to be resolved?


Li Keqiang: I truly admire all these resident journalists of foreign media in China for speaking Chinese so well. The biggest challenge last year was the increased downward pressure on our economy. Central government revenue registered negative growth at one point. There was the so-called “money squeeze” in the financial sector last June. Inter-bank lending rate exceeded 13%. And there was a slump in the growth of electricity consumption and cargo transport volume. There was this view in the international community that the Chinese economy would suffer a hard landing and China’s growth would drop to 3-4%. Moreover, we had only very limited room for manoeuvre in carrying out fiscal and monetary policies, and we were faced with multiple tough choices in exercising macro-control. Under such conditions, what should we do? When confronted with mounting challenges, one needs to show guts. To tackle a difficult situation, one needs to have wisdom. We held our ground. We pursued creative thinking and ways in exercising macro-control and set a proper range for China’s economic operation. That is to say, we worked to ensure that GDP growth and employment would not slide below the lower limit and inflation would not exceed the upper limit. We focused our efforts on boosting reform and making structural adjustment to ensure that the market will play a strong role. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary and thanks to the concerted efforts of the entire Chinese people, we faced the pressure down and met our targets.


Now what is on top of our mind is the existing difficulties and problems. We will confront serious challenges this year, and some may be even more complex. We need to keep steady growth, ensure employment, avert inflation and defuse risks. We also need to raise the quality and efficiency of China’s economic development and tackle pollution. So we need to strike a proper balance amidst all these goals and objectives. This is not going to be easy. But the thing we have to fear is not the difficulty itself, but lack of preparedness, just as only a sharpened axe can cut through firewood. We will face up to the difficulties and challenges and make the most of the favorable conditions while averting unfavorable ones. This holds the secret to our success. Moreover, we gained good experience from handling the economic downturn last year, and the Chinese economy has tremendous potential and resilience. So I believe we have the ability and conditions to keep the economic operation within a proper range this year.


CCTV: In last year’s press conference and this year’s government work report, you laid special stress on streamlining administration and delegating powers. In our reporting activities we have heard much praise from the society about this reform initiative. Yet at the same time we have also heard complaints among the people that it is still difficult to get things done in some governmental departments. And some governmental departments may have released some less important powers, but still hold on to those more important ones. How to ensure that this reform initiative will be fully implemented? And to what extent can we say this reform task has been completed?


Li Keqiang: Last year, the Chinese government took streamlining administration and delegating power as the top priority on its reform agenda. With tremendous efforts, the central government has abolished or delegated to lower-level governments 416 items subject to State Council review and approval. This has sent out a very strong signal that we will loosen the straitjacket over enterprises and let the market play a strong role. As a result, fewer enterprises find it necessary to turn to the government and fewer local governments find it necessary to turn to the central government. This reform initiative has tremendously boosted market dynamism as shown in the following statistics: The number of newly registered businesses last year increased by 27.6%, among which the number of newly registered private businesses increased by 30%, the highest in over ten years. This shows that streamlining administration and delegating power is a powerful tool in energizing the market and stimulating social creativity. It is also the fundamental solution for cutting rent-seeking behavior and uprooting corruption. It was decided at the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee that the market will play a decisive role in allocating resources and the government should better play its role. Streamlining administration and delegating powers is an important starting point in this direction.


Delegation of power does not mean that the government will stay out of everything. What we need is both power delegation and tightened oversight. This way, the government can have extra energy to focus on pursuing creative and better macro-control. In particular, supervision over these delegated matters should be tightened when these matters are being handled and after they have been handled. Such behaviors as cheating and swindling of marketplace, making and selling of fake or substandard goods, violation of intellectual property rights, polluting activities and those activities that obstruct fair market competition will be put under rigorous oversight and severely punished. The principle of equity should be reflected in both power delegation and tightened oversight. I am aware that in the course of power delegation there have been such problems as a perfunctory attitude, midway obstruction or power delegation getting stuck in the last mile. But how can an arrow shot be turned back? We are determined to see this reform through. We are prepared to take on tough challenges in pursuing this reform initiative. As to what extent will we feel satisfied, we will keep up this reform until there is a proper relationship between the government and the market. The market economy is one based on the rule of law. We need to ensure that market entities can do anything which is not prohibited by the law, and government departments cannot do anything unless it is mandated by the law, so as to mobilize the initiative of all sides and add new impetus to the growth of the Chinese economy.



















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