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Premier Li attracts worldwide media attention

Premier Li Keqiang’s press conference after the conclusion of the annual session of the National People’s Congress — when he vowed to ensure growth amid reforms which he likened to cutting one’s own flesh — has received widespread international coverage.

Premier Li answered 17 questions from Chinese and overseas reporters on March 15, concerning topics such as real estate, the economic slowdown and diplomacy.

The Premier said the slowdown will not derail plans to increase jobs and incomes while the rest of the world showed great concern about the Chinese economy.

He also said that if growth falls below the desired range — and affects employment and national income levels — the government will step up macroeconomic regulations to boost market confidence, while at the same time maintaining continuity of macroeconomic policies to anchor long-term market expectations.

Following the Premier’s comments, CNN said that he “offered a sobering assessment of the world’s second largest economy amid fears of a sustained slowdown”.

The Telegraph quoted Premier Li’s words concerning China’s structural reforms, which he said are “like taking a knife to one’s own flesh”.

“But (the premier) says growth in the world’s second largest economy will remain strong,” the newspaper said.

The Associated Press said Premier Li showed determination to press ahead with reforms meant to reduce the Chinese government’s role in the economy, although he acknowledged there would be pain for “vested interests” that benefit from regulation.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation used the following headline on its website: “National People’s Congress: Premier Li Keqiang warns of pain ahead but says China’s future is bright.”

Premier Li also compared the development of the country’s economy to a Chinese chessboard game when he explained how his cabinet should increase efforts to keep the country’s economy in good shape.

“The challenge of making structural adjustment while maintaining growth is similar to weiqi — a Chinese game that in Japan is known as ‘go’-- where players must plan for the big picture and also get individual moves right,” the Bloomberg quoted Premier Li as saying.

The Premier also said at the press conference that China has an ample stock of “policy weapons” that can be used if necessary to prevent the slowdown from worsening.

“China’s economy is facing considerable pressure due to the slowdown but the government has a host of policies to halt the slide, Premier Li Keqiang said as he tried to allay fears about flagging growth in the world’s second largest economy,” the Mumbai-based Economic Times said.