Premier Li Keqiang joins discussion with National People’s Congress (NPC) deputies from Sichuan province in Beijing on March 8.[Photo by Liu Zhen/China News Service]
Premier Li Keqiang told deputies of the National People’s Congress from Sichuan province on March 8 that they should put people’s safety and livelihoods first.
“Facing difficulties, we must be strong and never give in. Sichuan has shown its spirit in the aftermath of earthquakes. Now we’ll carry that spirit and withstand the downward pressure on the economy,’’ Li said.
Li said central and western regions have flexibility. Sichuan is a typical province, as it contributes to one fifth of the total economy in the western area. If the province can resist the economic downward pressure, it will not only contribute greatly to the nation, but also boost the confidence of the entire central and western regions.
The Premier said the central government will implement particular policies in the western regions. But the development of the area will still rely more on further reform and opening up, breaking down barriers in the system that impede development, releasing market dynamism, stimulating public entrepreneurship and innovation, and driving reform with opening up. Sichuan has all the conditions to ensure that this happens, he added.
Li said he had an emotional attachment to Sichuan after visiting the province following the devastation of the earthquakes.
Li recalled the overwhelming grief he felt after meeting the survivors who had lost relatives and friends. He said protecting the safety of people in the province that had been frequently hit by natural disasters is the most important task for officials in Sichuan, and no slackness will be tolerated.
In China, there are 14 designated poverty-stricken areas, and three are in Sichuan.
In this year’s Government Work Report, the central government proposed uplifting more than ten million people out of poverty nationwide, while Sichuan’s the target is one million.
“Your task is heavy. You are taking one tenth of the whole nation’s responsibility,” Li said. Sichuan officials must attach the greatest importance to improving people’s life, he said.
The Premier said establishing a fair and just society, letting all the people share the dividends of reform and development, and alleviating poverty are the historical responsibility that the government cannot shirk.
In addition to securing the basic needs for the small number of people who cannot work, the emphasis should be on increasing the investment in public products and public services to create conditions to pull people out of poverty.