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新华网 2020-06-01 15:07



Asahi Shimbun: COVID-19 has taken a big hit on the global economy. But China has been successful in bringing the spread of the virus under control. What does China plan to do to advance economic cooperation with Japan and other neighboring countries? What is China’s plan for advancing the FTA among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other free trade arrangements? Does China have a plan to join the TPP?



Premier Li: I recall that last year at the leaders’ meeting of East Asian cooperation, leaders of 15 countries made the commitment of signing the RCEP by the end of this year. I hope and believe that this commitment will not come to nothing. China, Japan and the ROK are also working closely together to advance their FTA development. The three countries are close neighbors, and we would like to work with the other two countries to develop a mini economic cycle within the bigger economic cycle. For example, recently China and the ROK have opened a fast-track service for personnel inter-flows in areas such as commerce and technology. We believe this will benefit the resumption of economic activities, and our geographical proximity has put us in a good position to benefit from this earlier.


As for your question about TPP, I suppose what you mean is the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). China has a positive and open attitude toward joining the CPTPP.



People’s Daily: This year, China plans to win its battle against poverty. But because of COVID-19, many families have seen a decline in their household income. And some are even at the risk of falling back into poverty. So are we able to fulfill the task of winning the battle against poverty this year? And what will the government do to meet people’s essential needs?



Premier Li: Our country is a developing country with a big population. The per capita annual disposable income in China is 30,000 RMB yuan. But there are still some 600 million people earning a medium or low income, or even less. Their monthly income is barely 1,000 RMB yuan. It’s not even enough to rent a room in a medium Chinese city. And because of COVID-19, many families have encountered difficulties. So it is a very high priority on the government’s work agenda to meet the essential needs of vulnerable groups and those families who have encountered new difficulties because of COVID-19. This is a very important part of the government’s work agenda. And a fairly big part of our support policies are designed for this very purpose.



This year, we are determined to end poverty as scheduled. This is a serious commitment made by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core to the whole of Chinese society. Before COVID-19 struck, there were some 5 million people living below the poverty line. But because of the disease, some may have fallen back into poverty. Hence, we now face a greater task in meeting our goal. But with our multi-pronged policies and measures to ensure the essential needs of our people, we have the confidence to win the battle against poverty this year.



Governments at all levels must always put people’s interests first and bear in mind the hardships of the Chinese people. In introducing each and every policy, we must make sure that it contributes to the well-being of all families and to the better lives of our people. In responding to COVID-19 this year, we must make thoughtful and meticulous plans to ensure the basic needs of all vulnerable groups. In this respect, we have decided to expand the coverage of subsistence allowance and unemployment benefits. Some 60 million people in China still live on subsistence allowance or receive unemployment benefits, penury assistance, or other relief or support. This year, we are expected to see a big increase in the number of recipients. We have sufficient funds to support these vulnerable groups. We must use the money wisely to ensure that every cent will be well spent. Some 300 million senior Chinese citizens live on old-age pension. We decided to raise the pensions for these retirees this year. We must fully deliver all our commitments.



Actions count, and actions always speak louder than words. We have sufficient balance in our social security fund to ensure that pension benefits will be paid on time and in full, and there should be no loopholes in the operation of the fund. This way, we will be able to give our people more hope about their future. More importantly, the Chinese have a tradition of respecting and taking good care of the elderly. We must ensure that all the benefits and support will be duly provided. This will reassure our people and also help us promote China’s economic development. As the saying goes, the people is the foundation of a state. When the foundation is strong, the state will be secure. So we must fully deliver on all those policies and measures. And that will make our people more hopeful about their future.



Lianhe Zaobao: In the Government Work Report, you said that China will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and world economic and trade environment. So what is your reading of the external situation China faces? What will China do to cope with the changes in the international environment? And what role will China play in the global responses to the public health challenge and the challenge of serious global recession?



Premier Li: Let’s look at what’s happening around us. COVID-19 has impacted our world profoundly. There has been a significant deceleration and decline of exchanges and cooperation between countries because of the containment requirements. Should such a trend continue, the global economy will be pushed into deeper recession and that is something dangerous. And if the world economy cannot resume growth, it may be even challenging to sustain the COVID-19 response. In responding to COVID-19, we need public goods more than ever before; we need to keep the international industrial and supply chains stable. This requires even greater openness and the pursuit of trade liberalization and investment facilitation. With such joint efforts we will be able to prevail over and minimize the effects of COVID-19 on the world.



It is impossible for any country to achieve development with its door closed or retreat back to the agrarian times. China will keep to its opening-up policy. China will not waver in this commitment, nor is it possible for us to shut our door to the outside world. Instead, we will further expand our cooperation with the rest of the world and introduce more opening-up measures on our own initiative.

Openness is as indispensable to a country’s development as air is to human beings. One will suffocate in an enclosed space. We, in this process, will work with others to keep global industrial and supply chains stable. Some have made plain their intention to readjust the global industrial and supply chains. We believe the shifts in global production of businesses should be done in accordance with market principles. In the marketplace, it is only natural for companies to come and go, succeed or fail. People should not make arbitrary plans against market rules. Instead, we should open up our markets wider to each other.



In an environment of mutual openness, we believe it’s important for countries to live side by side in amity. We hope that all countries will observe the principles of mutual respect and equality. We believe that all countries should be equals, big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak. And if there are some rules in today’s world that need to be improved, we can all sit down and work things out through discussions. We need to pursue mutual benefit in our cooperation. We don’t think for any one particular party to take all the benefits will work. Instead, we should pursue win-win. And in this environment, we may achieve shared success. Countries should also support, help and learn from each other, as we can make the most of our comparative advantages. We believe all countries should fulfill their due international obligations and work together to tackle common challenges and difficulties. And China, as a large developing country, will surely live up to its share of international responsibilities.



China is a huge market. All these policies of a sizable scale that we have introduced to provide relief to businesses will further spur consumption and energize our market. And we hope that people will stay optimistic about coming to invest in this big market of China. China is also prepared to boost imports from other parts of the world, and we will be a big market for the whole world.



As for how to respond to the public health crisis and global economic recession, as I have said in my previous remarks, we believe all members of the global community should pull together in a sense of partnership to prevail over the current difficulty. We hope and believe that with joint efforts of people around the world, the post-COVID-19 world will be a more open one. And this post-recession world will embrace new prosperity.


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