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Premier: Innovation is the path for Asia

Premier Li Keqiang made the keynote speech at the opening of the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia in China’s southernmost island province of Hainan on March 24. The Premier said he is optimistic about China’s economy, adding that Asia as a whole can overcome its current difficulties and embrace the future through cooperation.

In his address, Premier Li Keqiang said it was inevitable that some industries would come under pressure as China restructured its economy.

“The sustained downward pressure on the economy is quite large, we are currently experiencing inevitable and unavoidable pain in the transformation and upgrading process, especially some chemical industries are experiencing difficulties in operation. We won’t avoid these difficulties,” Premier Li said.

China is aiming to shut down so-called “zombie companies” that over produce -- such as the coal and steel industries -- while upgrading the country’s manufacturing sector.

And, for the first time, the country’s economic growth target has been set in a range -- between 6.5 and 7 percent -- instead of a specific point, to avoid policy-makers being influenced by economic fluctuations.

Premier Li said it was time to pay more attention to the quality of China’s products.

“We absolutely won’t use a devaluation to stimulate exports, the products it would stimulate are not high-quality products, are not products that would make companies more competitive or make them more innovative. What we want to gradually release to the world are upgraded, middle- to high-end products,” Premier Li said.

To get to where it wants to be, China is using market tools, whilst encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. And according to Chinese Economist Li Daokui, the agenda will also stimulate employment.

“China’s economy is gathering new momentum by encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, which will create new job opportunities to offset the impact of jobs losses from industrial overcapacity reductions,” Li Daokui said.

And that’s not only for China.

Premier Li said its innovation-driven growth model should be applied to the whole of Asia, saying the continent can only have a bright future with a skilled labor force fused with innovative thinking.