Premier Li Keqiang arrives for the news conference after the closing meeting of the fourth session of China’s 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing on March 16, 2016.[Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Premier Li Keqiang responded to questions from 17 domestic and foreign reporters at a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing after the conclusion of the national legislature’s annual session on March 16. What did he say?
The most resolute: The economy
It is impossible for me to agree that China cannot achieve the growth target. We are fully confident about China’s long-term growth prospects. This confidence is not groundless, because we believe that there will not be a hard landing as long as we stick to the reform path.
The most candid: Streamline administration and delegate power
We must make persistent efforts to forge ahead on this reform path and wherever there is an obstacle, the government must remove the obstacle. The reform will cut government power but we are determined to keep doing it until our job is done, as that will deliver clear benefits to our people even if the government has to make painful adjustments.
The most reassuring: Pension benefits payments
One day, we will all be retired and live on pension benefits. So here’s the message of reassurance. That is, nationally speaking and in the long run, there will absolutely be no problem in meeting pension payments by the Chinese government. So, ensuring that the elderly will be provided for cannot and will not be an empty promise.
The most determined: Cutting red tape
This year we are determined to further cut the number of such government approval items and leave more such items to the market. There are still too many requirements for certificates and various permits, and this year our goal is to further cut the number of such certificate requirements by half.
The most decisive: Financial regulation
We still need to improve our regulatory system in China. Basically, we must sharpen our vision to exercise the most-effective regulation. We watch out for possible risks to ensure that the lawful rights and interests of investors and consumers will be upheld. I want to remind the various departments and local authorities that they must to do their job properly, otherwise they will be held accountable.
The most pragmatic: Financial problems
Many economic problems first manifest themselves in financial markets. The top priority of the financial sector is to support the development of the real economy. The truth is, the dysfunctional real economy presents the largest risk to the financial markets. So, I believe the job of financial institutions is to provide better services to the real economy, especially micro and small businesses.
The most tangible: Five major social insurance programs
On the whole there’s still room for us to cut the contributions to these insurance schemes and fund and conditions of different localities vary from each other. As I said before, we still have ample social security funds and local governments can be given great autonomy to make their own decisions of adjusting downward such contributions in keeping with their local conditions. All in all the purpose of our effort is to lessen corporate burden and put more money in the pockets of our people.
The most frank: Medical insurance
The Chinese government is fully determined to achieve national portability of medical insurance schemes at a faster pace. This year we will basically achieve direct settlement of such expenses at the provincial level. And we also plan to use two years of time to achieve the direct settlement of hospitalized expenses by retired elderly people in places away from their hometowns, so as to remove this high concern in the minds of our people. All the government’s work is to improve the well-being of our people.
The most humorous: “Ministers’ passage”
Was there not a passage in the Great Hall of the People for ministers to appear before the press to take their questions? What I said to the ministers is that whenever you encounter journalists, you should no longer just wave your hand and take a quick leave, rather, you need to open your mouth and answer questions straightforward. From what I heard, the performance of ministers has been warmly welcomed and received by the press.
The most heroic: Economic transition
If we combine the “fostering of new drivers” and “upgrading of old engines” and make them the “double-engines” of the Chinese economy, it will go through the pass of difficulties and leap to the plateau of hope.
The most composed: China-US ties
Business cooperation between our two countries has always been mutually beneficial, something that I believe the US business people know best. As for the ongoing general election in the US, it has been lively and has caught the eyes of many. I believe that no matter, in the end, who gets into the White House, the underlying trend of China-US ties will not change.
The most sincere: Preferential policies toward Taiwan
We quickly issued a document specifying that all the introduced preferential policies for Taiwan businesses will remain unchanged. Why did we do that? Because we are all members of a big family.